Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mrs. Fossilfuel Wants Me to Move In

Or so it seems. She's asked the agency to find out if I'm available for "overnights" and three evenings from 6 to 10. I signed on for 2 of the evenings, but nothing overnight. I feel sorry for her because she needs someone with her, and wants to escape the spooky Sondra. And loneliness in general.

It is glaringly obvious to me that Mrs. Fossilfuel needs to be in a nursing home. Even though nursing homes can be their own den of terror, she is too frail to be alone.

I did consider for a moment what "overnights" would consist of with a 98-year-old woman. Probably not all that much talking about our boyfriends or doing each other's hair. One thing I forgot to mention about her: she wears a little brown wig that sits on her head cockeyed most of the time. When I go into her room to check on her in her half-sleep, the first thing she does is quickly straighten her wig.

She's on my mind frequently. I wonder what she's doing, what she's worried about, if she's OK. I knew this job would take up a lot of emotional space, but I didn't expect the inside of my head to be the new studio apartment for Mrs. Fossilfuel. At night a tiny little cot pulls out for her, right inside my skull, and she sleeps there, dreaming of the smell of fried potatoes.


  • At 1:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a lovely image--that little cot and the dreaming--you have such a great heart, dearie. Care for it gently. Tell her you have to know her for at least a year before you do overnights. Many the times in my life I should have heeded that advice, and, uh, didn't even get close to it.

    You never do anything half-heartedly. And it does indeed sound like she needs to be somewhere where she can get more care.

    And wouldn't you just love to hear about her old boyfriends? I feel stories, stories, stories coming on. Love, Anita

  • At 7:31 AM, Blogger Jerry said…

    It will be interesting to follow your emotional passages in this new endeavor. Not many people are emotionally equipped for the type of work you are doing.

    It's not that too few people are empathetic, compassionate or well-meaning--it's that the work takes a toll--it drains one's emotional reservoir. Most of the doctors and nurses I worked with developed an "objectivity" about the patient; they distanced themselves from personal involvement.

    I'm not sure this is a good thing. It may close off opportunities for emotional enrichment--for discovering new layers of sensitivity and awareness.

    Those who cannot create an emotional distance seemed doomed to suffer from the work. Curiously, I'm still burdened by remembrances of patients that I worked with--second guessing the things I might have done to some ineffable way. Wondering if I was compassionate enough or perceptive enough or...whatever.

    Some experiences and mental images stay with you...and that is not necessarily a good thing...not for me anyway.

    Mrs. F is lucky to have someone like you; psychos like Sondra populate the nursing homes and hospitals. Some of them are dangerously unbalanced but hospitals have a hard time finding good people.

    Thankfully, you are...well balanced..

  • At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    And you quickly became her favorite. Or, it sounds like you have at least tied with Sherrie. Sondra should never, ever be there at night. I imagine her forcing Mrs. Fossilfuel to participate in seances and voodoo rituals.

    I like how you titled your post "Mrs. Fossilfuel Wants Me to Move In," but then ended up describing how she has "moved in" to your thoughts. I agree with Anita: you have a great heart.

    I agree that it would be interesting to hear about her life as a younger woman. But I wonder if you really would ever get the chance to talk at length about things like that. It sounds like you probably keep pretty busy just with the physical care and meals part of the job. I know that if anyone can really get to know her, you can.

    I feel very sad for Mrs. Fossilfuel. But I know that she is lucky that you came into her life.

  • At 8:04 AM, Blogger Dana said…

    Amen to all of the above.

  • At 8:13 AM, Blogger Carin said…

    I agree with anonymous - you should at least go steady for a while before you do overnights.

    Nursing homes suck. If I could afford it, I would do anything to avoid one.

    But, for really social people - they may be better. Interaction versus being a shut-in.

    My great gramma had a few live-ins. They always seemed pretty nice, so I guess she had good luck.

  • At 10:14 AM, Blogger Tony from the Bronx said…

    I happen to know through reading George Eliot's novels that Oldsters of Mrs. F's age love Twister, that hilarious game of "getting to know you." Bring along your Twister mat and challenge the Old Dear to a game. You'll find both of you laughing with amazement and delight at the astonishing and mirthful positions you'll get into!

    If that doesn't cheer her up, try this recipe: 6 oz. codeine to stearyl alcholol, carbopol 980, trolamine, hydroxyethylcellulose, ceramide vi, imidazolidinyl urea, vitamin A palmitate , vitamin E acetate, menthol.4 oz menthol alcohol. Garnish with mint leaves, a lemon twist, and a miniature paper umbrella.

  • At 10:33 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Jerry, I'm sure this will be very draining. But draining in a different way from trying to coerce lazy-ass students to write papers. Sometimes you just need a change of scenery in Draintown.

    I don't have to convince Mrs. Fossilfuel to do much. She's happy to let me tuck her in after she sits up to eat.

  • At 10:34 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Oh how I wish *I* had followed that advice too. Now that we're old and smart, isn't it wild to imagine being young and smart?

  • At 10:39 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Futuresis, I'm not striving to be her favorite. Sherrie is one of those special souls who works 60 hours a week doing this stuff. I don't have the stamina.

    But I do hope Mrs. F feels up to telling me a little about her past.

  • At 10:42 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thanks, Dana.

    Carin, Yeah, I think she'd benefit greatly from just having people around to talk to. Even in a nursing home. Something I didn't know is that even when someone is in a nursing home, the family still hires someone like our agency to go and visit with them or check on their care. It sucks that you would NEED to do that.

    Which is why those who care for the elderly in nursing homes should get major bucks and professional athletes and Hollywood types should be paid in piles of dogshit.

  • At 10:43 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Tony, I'm going to look into cloning you.

  • At 11:16 AM, Blogger Jerry said…

    "I imagine her forcing Mrs. Fossilfuel to participate in seances and voodoo rituals."

    That strikes a cord of reality. I can visualize crazy Sondra alone there with a captive audience--pulling out all here brain-ravaged psychopathy for poor Mrs F.

    Drums beating, face paint, chicken feet...and trances for everybody.

    Hmmmmm....actually this is beginning to sound like fun.

  • At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    I know you are *striving* to be her favorite. You don't have to. She just really likes you for who you are, just like the rest of us! :-)

    It occurs to me that you might actually fit Mrs. Fossilfuel's ideal of the quiet, motherly type. I know that is immediately what I thought of you when we first met. I thought to myself, "Now this gal is quite motherly and quiet." And the more that we have shared with each other.....oh my gosh....I have to stop. I am laughing too hard!

  • At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sorry. That should have said "aren't." As in aren't striving to be her favorite.

    My brain is mush. I have a job now taking care of an infant, and it isn't that different from taking care of Mrs. Fossilfuel. Only you don't have to walk her around bouncing her for hours, trying to get her to stop you?

  • At 11:41 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Of COURSE I don't have to walk her around bouncing her--

    OK. Yes. I do.

    Gotta get to work at the temp place where there is NO computer. AGGGGGH.

  • At 11:52 AM, Blogger Jenni said…

    Oh my sainted aunts, the previous post featuring flaming mermaids just slew me.

    Slew. Me.

    Your writing is a real treat. I will be back to hear more about Ms. F-F. And thank you for visiting my blog!

  • At 12:07 PM, Blogger Domhan said…

    When you get around to cloning tony from the bronx, could you put in an order for a mini-me version of him? I'd like to keep him on my desk in a mason jar. Occasionally I'd give the jar a good hard shake and scream, "Here are some Cheetos, now say something else funny!"

    I would, of course, poke a few air holes in the lid.

  • At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Here are some Cheetos now say something funny. Bwaaaaaahahahahahahahahaha.

  • At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is Belle writing from the den of terror otherwise known as a nursing home.

    Old age can be hard wherever you are whether it be nursing home or all by yourself at home. We do good things in nursing homes. I don't know of any of our families hiring their own nurse aids as our aids are sufficient and do a good job. The newspapers never write about the good things that happen here and it is too bad. In my 22 years here, I have seem much more good than bad.

  • At 1:10 PM, Blogger Citlali said…

    lol. = ]

    yes, Candy, I'm taking a break, couldn't help myself. going back to my writing corner now... = ]

  • At 1:14 PM, Blogger Citlali said…

    ooops, laughing at the cheetos NOT Belle. I sure do hope that what Belle says is true in more places than not. You know? = ]

  • At 1:43 PM, Blogger Lisa Dunick said…

    wow-- it's quite a task you've undertaken. It must require more patience and empathy than I think I've ever had in my entire life.

  • At 1:51 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Sneaked into a computer at work. :)
    Belle, I would totally trust a nursing home where YOU are working to take care of my parents. I'm talking about the really scary places: such as the ones in my hometown where people fall out of bed and are left there on the floor. Or they get shampooed so infrequently they get lice. Both happened to elderly friends of our family. And the pay for orderlies is so lame that of COURSE they get some not-so-great quality people "working" there.

    I wish they WOULD publicize the good reports!!
    Someday I want to visit where you work and see your world there.

  • At 1:51 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    OK, my computer is being taken away now.


  • At 1:57 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    False alarm.
    Anyway, Belle, I hope I didn't offend you. If I did, I apologize. The agency I work for has people going to nursing homes a lot, just to check on the care of a person who has out of town family, etc. And to groom them, visit, talk, and such. I also know a couple people who slip regular cash to the aids to make sure they pay extra attention to their parent.

    In my hometown they pay orderlies 6.75 an hour. Which blows.

    Damn. Back to work now.

  • At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was the same way doing Hospice Home care four years ago. The 78 year old 'gal' wanted me to move in too. I did a few over nights (as she hated her differing people who came and they were very Sondra/spooky)
    It got hard as the more I stayed the more she didn't want me to go (yet I had a family) I was her 'friend', care --taker, liaison to her family, doctors.. and darn it if she didn't 'live' for awhile even in the last days she fought on - (she collected roosters so every time I see one its as if she's smiling)
    When I read this it is what I thought of 100%.. :) And now you are the favorite too...

    (Kelly from Carin's blog)

  • At 6:09 PM, Blogger Carin said…

    Personally, I would prefer to have my stuff ... my home, my garden around me - so even if the staff was super-duper, it would still be not-home-place-I'm-gonna-die. My mother worked in nursing homes for ... 15 years? Long time. Pretty good ones. But still - unless the person is social, and wants to be around a bunch of other old folks ... it can be depressing.

  • At 7:29 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thanks, Jenni. I'll be visiting again.

  • At 7:32 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    You know, I can't decide which I would prefer, Carin. I think I've never really believed I would live to be elderly, at least not nursing home elderly, so that choice doesn't enter my mind. But yeah, having your stuff and your privacy is a big deal.

    Also, in every nursing home I've ever visited, there is always a patient with dementia who is CONSTANTLY yelling for help. This kills me. And it would be awful to be old and tired and listening to that, with no way to sleep.

  • At 7:33 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Kelly, I love the rooster thing. Funny what stays with us, right?

  • At 9:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I thought we were all agreed that it was January and we were going to talk about sunshine and kittens and how glad we were that life was fair and good and just like it appears on early 1960s teevee. Remember? The blood pact and the chicken we sacrificed?? Don't make me hole up and watch Seven Brides for Seven Brothers again.

  • At 9:37 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…



    Gingham pinafore dresses!

    Ice cream sundaes!

    Chocolate gooey brownies!

    Puppies with wagging tails!


  • At 5:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sorry I got all into Jan depression again. No offense taken at any of the comments. I just had to add my own. I admire Candy for jumping into the health care world. It is not an easy one to jump into.

    Our nurse aids start at $14.00 an hour, non benefitted position which suits most of them just fine because they don't care about health care, etc. Maybe that is why the care is so good. You do have to pay people to do hard work and this is hard work.

    Hey, I mentioned health care. Isn't time for a political posting or at least one about the Super Bowl! You must give some Phoenix perspective! My husband would love to be there.

  • At 8:27 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thanks for not beating me, Belle. :)
    I do wish there were more places like the one where you work. It kills me to hear what goes on sometimes.

    Political? No way am I jumping into that hotbed of poisonous lizards!

    Super Bowl? What's that?

  • At 9:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The Super Bowl is the thing that will make your flight on Monday extra special hellish, Candy.

  • At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Where is Candy going????


  • At 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey-I'm crossing blogs now. I can't get a comment to post about the jalapeno poppers. Thanks for sharing the secret recipe. Mr. Belle will be excited about a new menu item. I sent you an interesting cake recipe for Super Bowl via Candy's e-mail address. Bored in Indiana snowstorm today-can you tell?


Post a Comment

<< Home