A Curious Lesson

A Curious Lesson


"I don't like it here!" declares Dana*, her measured pacing keeping tempo with her anxious words, "I want to go back to the other place?"

I'm confused. It's not unusual for Dana to feel restless toward the evening hours, but this is mid-afternoon. "What other place, Miss Dana? This is where you live."

"I know," she counters with conviction, "but I don't like it here. I want to go to the other place, the one just down the street. I just came from there a few minutes ago."

Dana frets, paces, then frets some more. There is no other place down the street; her home has been at Sunrise for a long time. "It's not far from here," she counters trying to convince me of her need for a change, "I walked it in a few seconds!"

Her anxiety is increasing in noticeable increments. I haven't taken a break, so I find a replacement to take my place at the front desk and a willing care manager with a few minutes to spare to join me on a walk.

"C'mon Dana," I say, not at all sure I should be offering my services, "Let's go find it."

It's a warm January day so we don't need a wrap, with any luck we'll be back in a few minutes. I watch as Dana turns and gathers three bags of popcorn from a nearby table.

"You sure you need those, Dana?" I question.

"Sure," she patiently explains, "they might not have any at the other place." That's true. They might not.

The three of us walk out the front door together. "This way," Dana points. I convince her to let me carry the popcorn in one hand so I can hold her hand with the other. Like the good sport she is, her CM takes Dana's other hand in her own. Now we're holding hands like school girls on the playground. We sandwich our charge safely between us and start down the sidewalk nearest the street. Neither the CM nor I have a clue where we are going, but Dana's not concerned. She walks with purpose, delighted to finally be on her way. There's no question as to who is in charge of this adventure.

At the end of the Sunrise sidewalk I hesitate, hoping she will realize the futility of her quest. Dana never wavers. "Now which way do we go?" I ask.

She looks this way, then that before settling on a direction. "Turn right here," Dana instructs pointing to the parking lot of a condominium complex bordering the Sunrise property. We chit-chat about this and that as we march to her cadence. Momentarily her step slows, "I don't remember it being quite this far!"

"Are you getting tired?"

"A little." Good! I'm thinking. This is good. Very, very good.

We pass one condo and then another. Dana walks on like a woman with a mission. Soon our path dead-ends as we run out of parking lot, "Now which way?" I query.

"Well, we could take a short-cut," she muses, obviously deep in thought, "but we'll get wet from the snow." Momentarily a decision is reached, "Let's turn here." As one, we make the turn and start up the incline. I'm getting nervous, hoping she doesn't realize we are simply circling the Assisted Living we left moments before. What's going to happen, I worry, when she finds out we're right back where we started?

Dana steers us to the right once more and we start up the home stretch. "Whew," I say. "It'll be good to get there, won't it? We can get a nice cold drink and relax for a little while."

"Sounds good," she concurs as she marches on placing one tired foot in front of the other. It's a good thing we are almost there. With a burst of fresh energy we take the final steps on our quest.

At the front door, Dana exclaims "Well, here we are!" She's excited. I am baffled. We are right back where we began. I open the main door and we walk past the rocking chairs set neatly on the enclosed porch. One more door and the moment of truth will be upon us.

We step into the foyer and I know in an instant that all my worry has been in vain. With an air of pure delight Dana exclaims in wonder, "Look! I like it so much better here. It's quiet and it's laid out just like the other place. Now be honest with me! Don't you like this place better?"

"Yes, Dana. Yes, I do."

Dana sets off to explore her new surroundings and I take my place behind the desk. I had not envisioned this particular ending. She's at rest, and I'm in awe. Not only did Dana find her other place, but I learned a valuable lesson: When a problem appears insurmountable, try looking at it from a different angle. Now be honest with me . . . don't you like that perspective better?

Written by Ronda Knuth, January 2009

* not her real name

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