October 26, 2009

Mr. Ridklin

The nurse walked into the nursing home and headed for the breakfast cart in the cafeteria. It was her turn to pass out the breakfast trays to each of the residents who chose to stay in their rooms rather than join the others in the dining area.

Today she'd heard there was a new resident who she'd already been warned was full of spit and fire with continuous demands. She chuckled at that thought and made her way down the halls with the cart. The new resident would be a welcome change from her usual routine and she couldn't wait to meet him.

She knew he'd be spending his final days in their home because he had Lung Cancer from working in a chemical plant and his family had mentioned cashing in on a term life insurance policy from the company soon. It was hard not to get close to the elderly patients when they didn't have much time left and their newest one was no exception.

She quickly cleared all of the negative thoughts from her mind then put a smile on her face as she found the room she was looking for and gave a quick knock on the door.

"Good morning Mr. Ridklin." She said as she carried a tray of eggs, toast and sausage into the room.

There were two beds in the room and she knew that the farthest bed with the curtain around it was his. "Hello. Mr. Ridklin?"

When there was no response, she set down the tray on the beside table and opened the curtain. What she found was not an elderly gentleman, but instead a young man about her age with an oxygen mask covering his mouth and nose.

She stared at the young man and choked back a sob that had formed out of nowhere. His eyes opened and the young man smiled at her.

"Ive brought you breakfast." She said gesturing to the tray on the table beside him. A thin and fragile hand reached for the mask to remove it and he mouthed a thank you, then placed the mask back on his face.

She simply couldn't understand why the other nurses called him spit and fire when he seemed like a gentle soul to her. Had they gotten the residents mixed up? Who knew. Maybe they just kept their distance where she didn't not. Maybe they didn't understand or maybe they just didn't care. But it really didn't matter because these were her people and this was her place.

She smiled back at the young man and reached down to squeeze his hand. She would make damn sure he made it through another day. And to hell with the other nurses that just didn't care.