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As mentioned in the previous post, yesterday I set up a display of jewelry for sale at the nursing home where my Mother has lived for over six years. Upon arriving home after the jewelry show, I exhaustedly dropped into a soft chair and swore I would never do it again. My feet and back hurt, my head ached, and every ounce of my patience had been left at the home.
Things started quickly. After all these years of doing shows at the nursing home, I’ve yet to realize just how word spreads so quickly that I have arrived with jewelry in hand. As usual, I hadn’t even moved the set-up tables into place before three or four people had come for “first pick”. Mother quickly came to my rescue, asking how she could help, and was assigned those tasks that can be completed from a wheelchair. She’s actually quite good at organizing and arranging the bracelets. We all want to be needed and I’m sure she knew I valued her assistance.
Our first real customer came looking for earrings. After I showed her a pair of simple ones, this great woman receiving oxygen through a tube in her nose remarked that she needed “slutty” earrings. Thinking she wanted dangles, I tried another pair. “No”, she laughed, “sluttier!” The other ladies, including my Mother, pitched in and eventually, we found the right pair. She matched it to several other things and off she went to retrieve her money from the nursing home cashier. Moments later, the cashier appeared to ask if I could take the woman’s IOU because the cash drawer was empty. Not wanting to look for more slutty earrings another time, I said yes.
I thoroughly enjoyed helping another customer, a former school teacher, who had purchased from me previously. She has good taste and selected 5 necklaces. Following a heavy discount, we discovered she was a little short on money and she decided she could also delve into her bingo fund. (You must have spent hours in or visiting a nursing home to comprehend how big a sacrifice she was making.) Discounting the items even more, somehow we arrived at the exact amount of money she had (excluding the bingo funds). Later, when she returned with her cash, I knelt by her wheelchair, helped her extract it from her purse and counted it. Concerned about her roommate who seldom got out of bed, she left to tell her about her purchases.
Numerous other folks came by either to window shop or make small purchases until it was announced over the speakers that I would only be there 30 more minutes. We might as well have turned on the first alarm. The wheelchairs started flooding in and, not liking crowds, Mother quickly retreated to a back corner of the room. The onslaught was on. While two ladies tried on what seemed like every pair of earrings they could get their hands on (yes, I’m currently sanitizing them), the school teacher had managed to rouse her roommate, who was obviously in pain, but determined to shop. She too, picked out about 5 lovely pieces but said her money was in route from the bank and she could have it next week. As I was wrapping her pieces for layaway, her roommate gave her the bingo money and I traded it to her for a bracelet she picked out. She wore it back to bed. I can only hope that when it’s my day, I’ll have a roommate who cares so deeply for me.
Meanwhile, the last two earrings ladies had gone to retrieve the “charge it” customer I mentioned working with at the last show. I was trying to put things away having already stayed an hour and a half longer than scheduled, but was told by the residents that I should “help her” because she’s 103. So, I did. Eons later, she was down to three necklaces in her selection. Yes, we had tried on all of them – - at least twice. Mother had come out of her corner and was rolling her eyes, knowing it was time to go. We picked up all the other pieces and folded the display cloth up to the three necklaces, but to no avail. She couldn’t decided. Then, thankfully, the layaway trick worked again and she went happily on her way.
Picked up and leaving, Mother asked, “how did we do?” “Oh,” I said, “we didn’t make much.” “Oh dear,” she said. But I told her the point was for the residents to have a good time. “WELL, They Certainly DID!” she said. A kiss and a wink later, I departed. Will I ever do it again? . . . probably.
An afterthought: I might have just given the residents jewelry since most paid below the cost of components in the pieces, but that wouldn’t have resulted in the same smiles. We all need to feel that we can manage for ourselves. By the time, folks reach the nursing home, much of their self-sufficiency is gone. Let’s hope those woman who rolled themselves to the jewelry table, made their own choices, and finally paid with their own money also renewed their own self respect.