Friday, April 5, 2013

Would you feel bad about this if you were me?

Inspired by Janie at

Preface . . .
Once upon a time I was accepted into a local university nursing programI volunteered at a rest home, and even though the nurses treated me terribly, often making me and the other volunteers cry, I stayed, hoping to learn. 

When ninety-year-old Rose talked, the past came alive.  She'd met her best friends and later her husband at extravagant dances and parties.  She'd been quite a prankster, witty, rich; I saw it in her sparkling blue eyes.  In her picture, sitting on the tiny dresser, Rose looked like a movie star.  Yet now she sat in a stained chair, and wore faded clothes.  She frequently felt too cold despite warming weather, or the crocheted scarf she wore every day.  
    I spent my breaks with Rose because she was something special.  On my last day, I asked her why no one came to see her.  "They're all gone," she said.  "The older generation has passed on.  The younger ones are too busy.  And it seems as if I'm the only one left."  Her shaky hand picked up the picture of herself, still stationed on her dresser.  She used her precious scarf to wipe dust off the glass.  It felt strange seeing her wrinkled hand next to what she'd looked like decades before.
    "It's your last day?" she asked, and I nodded.  "Promise you'll come back.  I get so lonely."
    "I promise." I hugged her thin frame close to myself.  "I'll be back when I can.  Things are busy at home with my kids, but we'll make time. We'll all come to see you."
    Rose opened the top dresser drawer and gently handed me something wrapped in tissue paper.
    "For me?" I asked, trying to be careful with the gift.
    "I've been working on it since the day I met you.  I hope you'll like it."
    I slowly took off the tissue paper, revealing the most beautiful jewelry box.  Rose had crocheted it, using some type of stiff material to keep everything together.  "It's amazing!  I'll never forget this."  I hugged her again, and then went out the door to finish my shift.
 photo 569348782_tp_zpsf7789b21.jpg
This (blue one) is similar to the jewelry box.

At the end of that day, I went to the nurses' station to grab the jewelry box, my coat and keys.  "What's that in your hand?" a short, brown-haired nurse asked.
   "It's a jewelry box. From Rose," I said, wondering if that nurse's picture is in the dictionary--under the word bitterness.
   "Ya know, Elisa . . .," she said, digging her fingernails into my arm before I could leave.  "I never figured you'd be one of them." 
    "One of who?"
    "Those volunteers who take advantage of old people."
    I gasped.  "I would never--"
    "Yet, you have.  Does Rose have much in this life?"
    "Well, no."
    "And you've taken something from her?"
    I thought hard.  "But she made it for--"
    "And you took it from her.  Didn't you?"
    "Yes." That was all I could say.
    "Elisa, you took something from a woman who doesn't have anything. YOU are a terrible person. I'm ashamed any teacher would recommend you as a volunteer."
    Tears came to my eyes.  That stupid nurse glared up at me, finally smiling.  That sickening red lipstick practically symbolized her craving for discord.  That's all I could focus on as she spoke slowly, her lips moving over bleached teeth.  "I'm glad you're done volunteering. And I hope you'll never come back. We don't need users like you."
    I hated myself. My own skin crawled with heat and embarrassment.  I clutched the jewelry box closer, knowing even then that I would never see Rose again.  Not because I didn't adore her, but because I was too scared to face that nurse.

    Thinking about the Random Acts of Kindness Blogfest, I've decided to do something extra nice once a week for the next two months.  My action this week was to go see Rose and tell her how sorry I am. But she was gone.
    I've learned something.  I should have gone back to visit my dear friendThat friendship would have been a blessing to both of our lives.  But instead I listened to a cynical pessimist. 
Life's not worth living for other people, especially if we compromise our convictions just because of fear.   
    I keep thinking about Rose, waiting and waiting for me to come back. I once heard that if God gives us "a mission" that we pass by, He'll give it to someone else.  I hope this is true, that a wonderful soul started visiting Rose--and I hope they stood up to that nurse!

Maybe next week's random act will be more uplifting.  But this time around, learn from my mistakes.


  1. I like to believe another picked up the mission and Rose was taken care of. God sees a way around the ugly souls that look to place road blocks in our paths. Have faith that Rose knows you eventually tried to make good on your promise.

    You've done so many things, Elisa. Your past is so rich.

  2. Such a moving story. So lucky to have a person such as Rose in your life if only for a relatively short time, its just a shame you also had to experience what sounds like a very bitter person.

  3. I had horrible encounters with some nurses. I don't blame you for not going back. I'm just sorry that such an awful thing happened. There ARE good nurses in the world. I wish they were all good. When I broke my back, most of the nurses were so nasty to me. I wrote two or three letters to administrators at the hospital and never received any response.


    P.S. Hot Young Anthony who lives next door is an RN. I bet he's a good one. He's so kind and quiet and helpful. Plus, I just love it when he takes his shirt off while he's working in the yard.

  4. I am glad that you and Rose got to enjoy each other's company for a period of time. That nurse sounds terrible! I can understand why you were afraid to go back, and I think it is awesome that you learned a lesson from it and are trying to pay it forward. :) All we can do is learn from the past.

  5. You & Rose knew how you felt about each other--that's all that matters!!

  6. At least you both at an impact on each others lives.

  7. I hope you tell her how you feel. She might not know that someone cared enough about her to tell others.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this story. It sucks to work with a nurse like that. But it's great you met a great person and got something great!