The first time I met Sally, Henry and I were in a short sit down meeting with the facility’s Director of Nurses. Sally was walking the halls and had stopped outside the open room. I’m not sure exactly why she stopped but she stood there crying and since the Nurse didn’t invite Sally in, I did.
Sally came in and I sat with her on the couch while she quietly cry’d. The nurse said Sally is an artist. So while Henry and the Nurse talked together, I talked with Sally. She told me about painting portraits. Some of her work was of school children. At this point of my dementia education I wasn’t listening as much as I should have been. But at least the more she talked the less she was crying. Henry and I took turns talking to Sally and to the nurse and by the time we were all standing up ready to leave Sally was smiling.
At some point down the road we learned that Sally was mom’s roommate. That was a bit of a surprise. We didn’t ever see Sally when we visited mom because she was off walking the halls and unlike mom, Sally does not have a photo of herself outside the room door, so we had no way of identifying who her roommate was. Sally is one of the residents who walks all day long. So, it took a bit of time for us to get to know her.
Once I did get to know Sally I learned that she is a teaser! One day I had taken my coat off and hung it on the back of one of the chairs that was pushed up to an 8 foot long table which sits out in the hallway around the corner from mom’s room. My coat was fine out there, nobody paid any attention to it, until…..I went to my coat to check my phone that was in the pocket. As I put the phone back into the pocket I noticed Sally was standing close by, but seemingly, not paying any attention to me. So I left my coat thinking it was safe but wondering, uh oh, at the same time.
A few minutes later when I was sitting in the activity room with mom, I sat where I was facing the window that looks out into the hallway, I saw Sally walking quickly right past my…………oh no she snatched that coat up by the collar without missing a beat and she just kept right on walking with it. I ran out of the activity room and after Sally because I didn’t want to loose my phone or the keys that were still in the pockets.
I reach Sally and put my arm around her shoulders and tell her “Hey Sally, you’ve got my coat.” She doesn’t say a thing but just keeps on walking. I know I’m not going to get my coat back so as she continues to walk I reach into the pockets for my phone and my keys and then I tell her “Ok, I’ll see you later” and I turn around and head back to the activity room with my belongings in hand. One of the staff later puts my coat on mom’s bed where she knew I could find it. Ha, ha, a day in the life!
In the activity room there is a little kitchen area that is for staff only. Sally has also been known to make off with towels from the little kitchen and hide them under her shirt. Then she lifts her shirt enough to show the acquired goods and with a chuckle, continues on her way.
The hallways have many comfy sitting areas that are there for residents and visitors to use at any time. Sally seems to have a want to redecorate and from time to time she will pick up the couch pillows and move them around. It’s all fine as these items are there to be enjoyed by all and everything that is out can be touched and moved as desired by anybody at any time. Sally is a busy woman!
AND THEN when it comes to mom’s stuff in their room, Sally seems to think it’s open season. LOL!! Mom has these very lovely afghan blankets that she crochet’d some years back. There is one of these afghan blankets on mom’s bed all the time. I don’t know exactly what it is about the blankets, whether Sally loves the afghans or she just loves to shop for other peoples things, but what ever it is she is constantly taking mom’s afghan. Mom says she often finds her afghan on Sally’s bed and she has to take it back. Mom now has taken to folding the afghan up as small as she can and tries to hide it on the bottom, farthest, corner of her book shelf. Not really such a good hiding place but it seems to work. Mom kind of accepts Sally’s interest in the afghan and complains about it some but for the most part, mom just continues to let it go and continues to take it back as needed.
Sally also has these 3 baby dolls that she carries around so mom’s afghan is used as a blanket for the baby’s. My opinion of why Sally is attached to the babies is because she doesn’t have visitors often and I’m thinking that carrying the baby dolls around helps with her anxiety. The dolls are made to look and be the weight of a real baby so I think these give Sally a feeling of worthiness and family. She definitely doesn’t like it when someone makes a little comment about how she carries around dolls.
Sally from time to time talks about the days of her portrait painting. From what my SIL, Dorothy told me, Sally has painted on frames as large as a doorway. I do believe this to be true. She has had newspaper articles written about her. She is quite the artist.
Sally loves to have conversation when I visit. Most times when I visit with mom in her room, we leave the door open which draws other residents in to chat as well. Sally sits on mom’s bed, other residents walk by, some stop in and we have a little chat party. Sometimes residents are on their way to some destination and simply stop to ask for directions. One lady who can be seen carrying around a crossword puzzle news paper asked directions to the library but then became involved in the current conversation and forgot about the library. Some stay longer, some stay shorter, some are removed by staff but all in all it is a wonderful social engagement for everybody.