Sally, the visiting nurse, was on her way to meet a new client today. As Sally read through Mrs. Gates’ case file the night before, she learned that Mrs. Gates was a recent widow. Her husband, a retired marine biologist, had collapsed a month prior while doing pool maintenance on their Olympic-sized swimming pool. Mrs. Gates had been dependent on Mr. Gates for everything, from housekeeping, shopping, cooking, and even bathing and dressing. Mrs. Gates had suffered a stroke a year prior and had lost the use of her left side. She was unable to walk, instead using her “Little Rascal” to get around.
To stay busy after retirement, Mr. Gates had belonged to an amateur stand-up comedian’s workshop group who called themselves The Jesters. They practiced jokes on each other and sometimes put on private party improv shows.
Prior to her stroke, Mrs. Gates raised and showed miniature poodles. She sold all of her dogs after the stroke, except for her red female champion, named Rubanel Don’t Take Your Gates Kennels (nicknamed Ruby.) Ruby was an ongoing comfort to Mrs. Gates through physical therapy, adjustment to her more limited lifestyle, and then through the loss of her dearly beloved husband, Giles.
On the last page of the file, in the section named, “Other important information,” there was just one word: anomaly.
After reading the case file, Sally began a framework for a plan that identified strengths, needs, and barriers. She approached the home confident that she would be able to help Mrs. Gates attain some measure of independence in her life.
Walking up the front steps, Ruby saw a note taped to the front door that said, “Miss Apple, please come in.” As she walked through the door she heard a tiny squeaking bark and the tap tap tap tap of tiny toenails coming closer. “Ah, Ruby.” thought Sally. Ruby stood there looking at her, tail wagging, but not coming closer. A scent of bengay and peppermint assailed her nose. She heard a woman’s voice calling from another room, “Miss Apple, I’m in here, come on in.”
As she stepped towards the voice, Ruby turned around and acted as her guide to her mistress. Sally looked around as she walked through. Old-fashioned art deco wallpaper lined the walls. Photographs blanketed the hall, showing many marine settings with a tall tanned handsome man. In some there was a tall tanned beautiful woman next to him. More often than not, though, the man was holding a variety of marine life forms. She passed a calendar and noticed every Friday had a big red X on it.
Sally turned right at the end of the hall and there was Mrs. Gates, sitting in a sunny room, reading a book of poetry. Mrs. Gates was 80 years old but she could have passed for 60. She was in good shape all except for her paralysis. “Please, Miss Apple, have a seat. Let’s see if we can figure out why you have been sent here by my physical therapist.”
Sally sat on a comfortable seat and Ruby ran over and whined to be picked up.
“My my, she likes you,” said Mrs. Gates, “she never does that.”
“Good, I think she’s adorable,” Sally said as she picked Ruby up and petted her soft fluffy fur.
I began my assessment questions. Mrs. Gates was clearly lucid and articulate. When I got to the question about what she might find useful that I could help her with, Mrs. Gates scratched her head and said, “The biggest help I could get from you is to find a person to take care of the mermaid.”
“Yes, ever since Giles died, I’ve been beside myself with worry about her. Her food in the deep freeze is almost gone, and she will starve to death soon. Also her home needs to be kept clean at all times. Miss Apple, do you think you can help me find a mermaid caretaker?”
Bingo, this had to be the anomaly mentioned in the report.
“Mrs. Gates, do you mind if I take a look at the mermaid?”
“Of course you can see her. She’s out in the pool out back. I roll my wheelchair close to the door and toss her food from there. I never go out there as mermaids frighten me. Giles said they can get mean sometimes. Go through that door over there which will take you right to her.”
I was going to have to write dementia in my report and recommend Mrs. Gates be removed from her home and placed in memory care assisted living. Mermaid!?
I went out back and saw the giant pool and thought I’d love to have one of these in my back yard. As I got closer though, the water was murky – and something was moving under the water – towards me!
In a blur of motion, a dolphin leapt straight up out of the air, then did a belly flop in the water, covering me with dolphin waste-infused water.
I ran back inside and informed Mrs. Gates that her husband was just jesting when he told her it was a mermaid and that I suggested we call the local oceanographer’s organization to seek guidance about what to do with the dolphin. She agreed. The organization arranged to pick the dolphin up and assess her at their sanctuary to see if she could be released to the ocean. If not, the sanctuary would make sure she was taken care of for the rest of her life.
Once that immediate situation was taken care of, Mrs. Gates and I sat down and worked out a plan for her.
Fandango’s FOWC is anomaly, the Word of the Day Challenge is jest, Paula’s 3 Things Challenge words are calendar, dolphin, ruby, and Teresa’s Haunted Wordsmith Daily Prompts are elderly person’s home, “The place smelled of bengay and peppermint.”, and the photo.