On the drive home, I kept reliving our visit. Whenever I’d start to cry, I couldn’t forget the fact that I couldn’t make him as happy and secure as they do at his new home. The minute I walked in, I saw nurse Sandra. Wringing my hands, I said, “I’m here for my first visit.” “He’s in there.” she said, pointing to the activity room. “It’ll be ok. But you can’t go in like that...not with your hands like that.” Holding my breath, I turned and walked over where all the residents were sitting. Jetti was singing Amazing Grace.
I peeked my head around the corner and saw Jerry, with his hair combed, dressed in his dark blue pin striped shirt, sitting with all the women. He looked up and over. When he saw me he immediately, with outstretched arms, began to make his way toward me, wailing, “Ohhhh! Ohhhhh!” I wrapped my arms around his shrinking waist and I could feel his ribs. We were beyond control with tears and I could hear the nurses saying, “You’re going to make me cry.”
In her loving way, nurse Jetti came over and gently wiped away Jerry’s tears and led us down the hall to Jerry’s room. Then, just as the emotion started, it stopped. He took me into his room and began to babble all about....I don’t exactly know what. As I watched him, I thought to myself how much he had declined and that I had placed him here not a minute too soon. Yet, we were both glued to each other’s sides, while he continued to try to talk. Even through his occasional tears, I could see how happy his countenance was. I could never have kept him this happy and secure.
Not knowing what to say, I opened a Coke and took him over to the pictures on the wall, where he instantly recognized our youngest, Katie. I made small talk, reminded him of his friends who loved him, and each time, he’d get a little weepy. I asked, “Do they take good care of you here?” He said, “Oh yes!” then went on the babbling trail again. I think he was trying to tell me about the good people there. Like an anxious child, he kept trying to climb in my lap, so I laid down beside him trying to hold on for a little longer. But, within a second, he was up looking out the window at someone passing by. Not knowing how I would end the visit, I said, “Well, I need to run some errands. I can pick up some Cokes and bring them back. Ok?” He said, “Ok.”
He grabbed my hand and walked me to the nurses station as if he wanted to introduce me. Smiling, he said, “They like me.” They happened to be folding his clothes and they began telling me how he loved to dance and hear music. I knew he was in the right place. I knew he was happy. And, in spite of the random tears, I knew he felt loved and that’s all that mattered.