Monday, June 08, 2009

Peas for dinner

About 12 years ago, H was recovering at a local facility that has a specialty in AIDS care after a bout of PCP pneumonia that nearly killed him. At that point, he had been in the ICU for almost a month and needed skilled nursing care to get him back on his feet. This is the same place that I was working to place him at the end of 2007. Lovely, kind people and state-of-the-care.

I had wheeled H in a wheelchair down to the dining room as he wasn't yet able to walk due to shaking and weakness. We lined up for food and I got his plate from the servers. Tonight was steak, mashed potatoes, and peas.

A handful of folks were in the dining room, mostly residents and a few family members. All the residents were either in wheelchairs or using a walker/cane. Only low talking, serious tones.

At the table, I'm cutting his meat because he isn't coordinated enough. But he bristled at being fed. He tries taking a drink, but is shaking and spills the water .

He tries to stab a pea with his fork, but misses and the pea skids off the table. I suggest a spoon and reach for it. "No! No! I can do it," he says.

He loads the soup spoon up with peas and moves up from the plate. OK so far, but then his hand starts to shake a little bit…a few peas drop to the table.

The higher he lifts the spoon, the more he's shaking and peas go flying. One hits me in the forehead and bounces into my water glass. I start laughing, then H starts to laugh and the spoon shakes more.

Now several peas are launched across the dining room. One splats on the nearby window. One flies towards the serving line and many land bounce across our table. At this point, I'm nearly in tears laughing…H begins to laugh more. And more peas fly.

One flies across the dining room, bounces on a table, and hits a guy in a wheelchair in the side of his face and drops into a visitor's plate.

At first he flinches like if a bug hits you, then he realizes it’s a pea, looks at us and starts to laugh heartily. Then others at his table laugh. Later as they were leaving, one of them comes over and says, "Thanks for making Joe laugh…we don't see him laugh enough anymore."

1 comment:

Greg said...

That's a nice moment of levity to remember from what must have been a very grim time for you both. It's a credit to everyone present that the peas became something to laugh about rather than what would probably happen anywhere else. Thanks for the story.