As I sit down to write today, I thought I would share some of my personal thoughts that cross my mind from time to time when I’m at work in the nursing home. Today, I am on a flight to watch spring training baseball in Florida, something my father would have loved to do and I find myself reflecting…
It’s quite bittersweet because I’d like to share my thoughts about my dad. He passed away after a short illness at the age of 67 in 2002. I myself was 32 years old and quite honestly, truly starting to appreciate my dad for the man he was. He never saw the inside of a nursing home as a resident, but there are times that I think about what it would be like if my dad was in the home.
Each day I come to work, and each day I see people who are my dad’s age. Each day I watch loved ones religiously visit, sit and talk, cry and worry, laugh and joke… At times I think, what if that was dad?
The thought that most often crosses my mind is when I find myself talking and interacting with the men who live in the facility or on our campus, or the men who attend a special event. After all, they are my dad’s age, and some of them even knew my dad. Some of these men remind me of my dad. Some of them, in my mind, take the place of my dad during conversation, a conversation that I could easily be having with him – a talk about sports, the good old days, or common interests.
The best part of all of this is when I meet someone new who knew my dad. Each and every time I meet someone new at Arbutus who knew my dad, I feel like I get to know him a little more through a story that they tell me or a memory they share. This truly warms my heart, makes me think, reminisce, and feel grateful for having such a terrific influence in my life. Everyone who knew him knows that my dad was a quiet man, a man of few words and a dedicated person to whatever he put his mind to. He was a regular guy, out each Friday with his best friend for some drinks and bowling every Wednesday night for as long as I can remember. My fondest memories are of him sitting in his chair at the house, transistor radio in hand, Pirate game tuned in, and a cold Schmidts with a small glass next to him. Quite honestly, that is the last place I ever saw him.
Another event that triggers memories at work is when someone he knew gets admitted. Difficult and troublesome for that particular family, but upon visiting or running into them, it always seems that a friendly face and a trip down memory lane for them helps, even if only for a short time. I enjoy seeing my dad’s old friends and I like to think they enjoy seeing me, taking a second to revisit the past. My dad always introduced me to everyone we ran into and apparently talked of me to people that I didn’t know, like any other father of his son. But it always brings happiness to me when I get to share a bit of time with them at work.
The old adage of time flies surely holds true. Sometimes you don’t realize this when you are younger, but the older I get the more clear it becomes. It was decades ago that I attended games with my dad, met his pals and sat in Rays Lounge enjoying a soda and pizza as he saw his friends after a JHS basketball game in the War Memorial or feeling like the best son on earth when I was able to actually take him to a Pirate game, not the other way around! That was decades ago, but seems like yesterday sometimes…
Now decades later, my dad is gone and his friends are sadly of the age that they need the assistance of a place like Arbutus. You see, when I started in this industry over 20 years ago, things like this never crossed my mind, it was simply my job, caring and providing for the elderly. But now, it is so much more meaningful, so much more fulfilling. Sometimes it takes a tragedy for one to realize things in this life, to open their eyes to new things.
Arbutus is important and special to me for many reasons. It is a special and unique place regardless of my thoughts, we do wonderful things here, sometimes you just have to sit back and think about it. People reappear out of nowhere years later. People whose names you heard daily as a youth, people who knew my dad his entire life, people who would have done anything for him. And now…. there are times that I have the privilege of doing everything that I can for them.
People talk about the brain drain, youth leaving the area for lack of opportunity here in our hometown. I left and came back, and at this point in time, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is my pleasure to work with and assist all the residents of Arbutus, because it feels like home… – br
Contributor: Buddy Roth is the Food Service Director at Arbutus