Thursday, April 30, 2009
Ritual #7 Inspire Someone
**Dedicated to Ursula**
My friend Susanne wanted me to try to inspire an elderly person or child with a statement. This is what came out of it, enjoy!
I have had the wonderful opportunity to start to get to know this German elderly woman named Ursula at the nursing home that I work at. She is not on the unit where I work but because of this new lunch program where we are socializing more with the residents I find that I stop and visit her every day. She always eats alone in her room. I feel that although I try to inspire and give her suggestions/advice she in turn gives me the same. Is there any type of relationship that is ever one sided?
I always get pulled into Ursula's world. Even though she repeats her stories you can't help be drawn in each time. She was a housekeeper/maid/entrepreneur that came from Germany in her young twenties only knowing two English words, "Alright," and "Ok." Her mother wanted her to go undt (German word for and I think) make dollars in America but only gave her $10 to start out. She first worked for nuns. She likes to share that everything was alright. The food was alright, the work was alright, the people were alright, but one thing was not right! The money. She only got $100/mo. She decided she should change this. She saw a job in the Jewish newspaper looking for help. She met them and said I'm a Catholic but I have nothing against Jewish people. She said they got along fine and that they were wonderful people. She worked for them for 3 years and 50 years later they still call her to follow up on how she is. Ursula talks a lot about common sense and how that is how she got by and took care of herself and her daughter. She survived an abusive marriage with a man that had schizophrenia and used to beat her badly. She didn't know much English but knew she had to change this. She ended up getting a divorce in the same court house where she got married.
One amazing tid bit was she actually worked for Elvis as a housekeeper/cook. She remembers Priscilla and said that her own daughter was very close in age with Priscilla. She said she didn't understand the big deal. He had a nice two story house and everyone had a Mercedes. She said it makes her sick that everyone thinks its such a big deal.
She is very health conscious. I am proud of her that she still eats and does what she wants at her age, which is prob at least in her 70's. She alternates her days at lunch from having bread and butter. She eats the best bread and takes her time. Then after she will have a glass of red wine. I often help her uncork the bottle and pour a small glass. Then other alternating days she might have bananas and milk. I hope I can stay strong with my traditions and what I want when I get older. It seems so easy to just get pushed into a routine with what is expected of you in institutions like a nursing home.
Ursula cleans up as much as she can in her wheelchair. She will billow a huge sigh if there is a spot on her table she just can't reach or clean off. If she could stand out of her wheelchair, I am sure that she would be scrubbing everything down.
While she inspires me with what she has accomplished, her determination against great odds, and her perseverance, I feel like I in return give her something back. When I walk in with a cheerful hello every day, her face brightens, she gives me a little smile, and her eyes twinkle. She loves to share with me a new photo or tell me the latest gossip about what nurse is doing what on the unit. I don't know if anything I say specifically has a great impact but I think my presence and my whole hearted desire to be there and hear her does.
In my small way I might say something to get her to soften up her strong views. She has a very hard view on people, especially when they don't measure up in her eyes. What I remember I said today was "Sometimes people will disappoint you but then other times they will surprise you." Don't think that was an earth shattering statement but she seemed to stop for a moment and think. I have no false illusions however that it will change how she thinks for a moment. I can expect that tomorrow she will be carrying on the same and I love that about her.
Hope you enjoyed meeting my friend Ursula. Look out for people in your world that you never thought would inspire you or likewise. They are out there waiting to meet you.