The sprawling state nursing home is in a dreary area on the edge of the city. Arline tells me that schoolchildren often visit the home to entertain the residents, and the president makes appearances. A nun gives us a tour of the cafeteria, the many patios and balconies, the nursing stations. Although the buildings are institutional, grey walls and grey tile, the home offers tiny single rooms with private baths — Nora wouldn’t have roommates to disturb — and nurses on staff around the clock. The price is right; less than Nora’s pension. Arline tears with relief as she thanks the nun for her help. The nun directs us to the social worker’s office.
All posts tagged: Allison Green
Under the Skin
Saturday, December 20
When I first meet my mother-in-law Nora, she is naked and skeletal, with a head-to-toe case of scabies. We don’t know yet about the scabies, but standing in the room at the nursing home, we can tell something’s wrong. Arline, my partner, hasn’t seen her mother in ten years.
An attendant brushes in past us. She had instructed us to wait in the entrance, but Arline’s friend Alma, sensing deception, led us down the front hallway and along a corridor until she found Nora’s room. The attendant waves us out; she will get Nora ready. The room holds a dresser with missing drawers and three single beds; they have dirty bedspreads and no sheets. A small print of a lily hangs near the ceiling on a wall as scarred as Nora’s legs.