The Adult Contingent

The summer I was 19, I worked in a nursing home in Brattleboro, swing shift from 3 to 11pm, arriving at the hot and busy part of the day and leaving in the generally cool and always quiet night. Being 19 and filled with endless energy, I often worked a double shift, and left at 7 am when just about everyone else in Brattleboro was heading to work.

A few young residents lived in that nursing home – a woman crippled with arthritis, a young man irreparably injured by a drunk driver – but the older residents were there either because they had dementia or suffered an illness, or were simply old and had nowhere else to go.

One evening, my favorite little old woman rang her bell. I remember she had a small bedside lamp and a handmade quilt. When I appeared, she was polite, but she said clearly, Honey, I want a grownup.

I hurried to get the charge nurse, even though it was my job and maybe I should have stayed. I was very young, and the woman was very old – a territory wholly unfamiliar to me.

Early last Sunday, in the last push of moving, I desperately wanted the adults to arrive. I love kids and teenagers dearly, but there’s a time for adults, too. The adults arrived in force, moved us and stayed, and put our house together again, too. They ferried us down the mountain and over the river and up a hill, and took the younger daughter swimming, too.

Eternal thanks.

A camellia
dropped down into
still waters
Of a deep dark well

– Buson


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s