Georgia donned her latex gloves even though she had no idea why they were required and she set out to collect the terrycloth bibs. As she picked up each one and placed it in the big plastic bag she wondered once again at the waste and mess of the food. In spite of the special preparation and attention to preferences, Jimmy would do his best to throw food at anyone near enough to catch an eye-full, Mary would play with the contents of her bowl until the soup river ran over the dam and made a waterfall over the edge the table.
If this was my facility, Georgia thought, I would not put up with it, I’d make them behave. At least I’d try something, timeout or take away a privilege. I think if Jimmy had to take an early nap or couldn’t go outside for an afternoon he’d learn to control his urge to lob mashed potatoes.
Maybe she expected too much, Georgia thought was she stepped over food and continued to pick up the big bibs. It was her job and she took it seriously. . . Maybe Russell couldn’t control his bowels and Timothy didn’t mean to hurt his friends and throwing away enough food each day to feed all those children in China was just the way it would always be here and if she wanted to stay she should not ask questions.
But, she really didn’t want to stay. What Georgia really wanted was to stay home and watch TV, but they were afraid to leave her while they worked. At least she could go home at night. She was proud to be able to ride the bus to and from her job independently. As she sat in her seat each evening, she looked back at the facility knowing that Jimmy and Mary and Russell and the others can’t go home. Instead, they are led down the hall where they sleep, dream, cry and on some level remember or think they do.
Georgia was a real person who I observed several years ago. She had special needs and worked as a “helper” at a nursing home in Louisville where my mother was a resident.
“Compassion isn’t related to religion. It’s a human quality.” Geshe Rapgyal