The Color of Age

I wonder what she might have been years ago before dementia,  and whatever debilitating bone and joint disease, took over her.

She tells me several times “My name is Barbara” as I get her dressed for the day.

This, and “I’m Barbara” is something I will hear no less than 25 times a night when I work.

She could have been a teacher, a store clerk, a judge, maybe even a doctor, I don’t know what she was, but only what she is now.

“My name is Barbara” she tells me for the 10th time as I’m pulling her shirt over her head.

MY name is Barbara” I tease her, and she giggles like a little school girl.

“Did I cuss you out?” She asks me as I’m pulling on her pants.

“No Barbara.  Not today.”

I don’t know why I answer her.  She says the same things over and over again, so actually answering her is futile.  

I’ve always wondered if it’s possible to be locked up in your own mind.  Your mind knows what’s going on, what it wants to say, but your mouth just won’t say it…

Just in case this might be the case (I know science says it isn’t), I always answer my patients.  

Even if it is the same three questions 192 times a night.

Because hey, you never really know.

“My name is Barbara”

“I knowwww” I think to myself as I get her buttoned up, but it doesn’t do me any good to tell her that.

“I’m coming back by God!!  Like hell, I’m coming back!!”

Hmmm.. I’d never heard that one before.  

Barbara doesn’t generally say much, other than “I’m Barbara” and a very select few other phrases, so that one took me off guard, but I didn’t say anything.  

She speaks at random, and not once, have I had a conversation with her…. until today.  

Crouched down by her wheelchair, I’m fixing her foot rests, and she says I’m coming back! like hell….”

She then giggles “pardon my french”.

Something else I’d never heard.  Barbara’s on a roll tonight!

“Do you work tonight” she asked me for the 127th time since I started getting her dressed.

Just to change up the answer, I said “Nope, not tonight”

“Well who will?!” she asks kind of shocked, which also shocked me too, because she’s never asked me that.

“I’m not sure.  Maybe Scott”

“Like hell” she states, and then “When will you work?”

“I work tonight Barbara” I answer, because I feel that by telling her I’m not working tonight, she now seems nervous and a bit agitated.

She seemed to relax as she stuttered out an “Okay” to me.

Just for the record, I really do work tonight.

“Strange”, I think to myself.  We just had a little conversation.  

I wasn’t aware she had the ability to have conversations.  Even small one’s.

As I’m finishing up tying her shoes, I ask her “Do you like it when I work??”

She smiles, pats me on the arm, and she says,

“I’m Barbara”.

Well… That’s good enough for me.


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