Knowing - Nursing Home Chronicles


The nursing home Our Lady of Perpertual Hope and Care is changing hands someone  said putting  a pumpkin colored flyer in my hand and as I enter the parking lot. I look up to see my mother face framed in the last bit of sunset sun up in  stained glass window on the fourth floor. She waves to me from  the window. as I drag my  fibromyalgic and slowly responsive body across the parking lot.  The change over is all the talk in hall at the reception desk and in the elevator . In  the elevator I learn that  as the nuns have announced their intention to sell the building and the nursing home. The 130 year old  order which  has failed to attract new nuns.  The youngest nun is the order is sixty seven years old.  There was no one left in the religious order to do the work of elder care because they are all elders.  The order is being retired .The nuns had the building on the market for a  two years now and the smell of a buyer was in the air. A company who is  part of a multi national conglomerate that would take  news show Sixty Minutes a year to discern who the parent company was. The elevator dings the second , third and finally fourth floor as the chatter continues.  I step out and I greet a greatly  subdued mom.  She smiles weaklyI as I notice she had her feet slide part of the way out of her shoes.

"Mom", I holler across the short expanse from the elevator to the huge paned window. The evening sun skirts my mother's spider webby white hair and the sillohette is produces is a bit like that famous picture of Albert Einstein with is hair all disheveled.  I had put on my happy face in the elevator and I forcibly bubbled across the floor to her.  The nurse greeted me and said Since you are visiting with your mom. She will be the last one I give meds to before lunch and continued to bustle about her nursing  med work.

My mother was subdued.  Warning, warning  Something was wrong my mother is never subdued. I reached her and she grabs my hand and kisses it.  She  looks at be with big eyes and says Shhh Then she motion with her finger for me to be quiet with a Shhhh motion and a furtive glance. I wheel her to her bedroom for priivacy concerned  about her odd demeanor of quietness. Mom put your shoes on , let's go to your room to talk.

Mom what's wrong I say?

My feet hurt.

Your feet hurt ?


 Well let me look at your feet. 

I expected to see clean feet if not manicured toes what greeted me was something else.

I wheeled her into her room where I pulled off her sock. The smell was pungent  odoriffic in its awfulness. My mother's toes were black- Black toes!  My mother is as light as a white woman. The dirt was encrusted between her toes rising off the surface by a quarter of an inch with pus and blood mixing to form a ooze.  The toes nails were thickened and rising up off the toe bed at and obtuse angle. I was shocked . I didn't know toenails could grow that way  straight up beginning to separate from the toenail  bed. No wonder her feet hurt . Oh God I  gasping from the smell whispering to my self  my mother feet hadn't been washed in months. The stroke had affected my mom's short term memory so sometime she could remember what happened to her and sometimes she could not. Mom when is the last time someone washed your feet?

"I don't know." she replied.

 Shhh mom said  again  coming  close to my ear as nursing staff came close to her bedroom door. 

I felt I had been hit by a ton of brick my mom was being neglected at one of the best nursing homes in the city.  Her feet were infected, her legs were infected and she keeps telling me shhh. Oh my God I am going to have  go outside and punch somebody and act like somebody out of the zoo.!

"Do your feet still  hurt even with your sock off" her I ask turning away with  fear tears in my eyes.

"Yeah" she says. "They burn".

 The infection had roamed up her feet and began to attack her leg.  Her toe nails were black and thick and she has diabetes.  Think Think Think. How could you not see this! How could you not treat this! Raged evveloped me as I looked for a chair. These people who I trusted with my mother were neglecting her hurting her. n How could I stop them! My rage rising . Then my logical side  kicked in .What would I do without  visual proof ,proof my logical mind clicking in my journalistic background clicking in. This damn nursing home had removed  her socks at night after night for months and put her socks on every day with out every treating her feet for infection.  They had given her two showers a wk and no one had ordered medical care for her, What was her doctor saying? How could this get like this. There was nothing I could do without proof neglect. Proof of her dirty nasty infected feet. I am weeping now afraid to show my mother how upset I am and knowing there is something rotten in Denmark starting with my mother's feet. Think , Think,  Think  I'm poor I don't have an attorney. I  don't have power of attorney my father sleeping with a hoochie, I'm sick I have no money so I can't take her home with me. But her toes are rotting off. ROTTING OFF. Rotting Off

" Mom I am going to go home and when I come back I am going to take some pictures of you and your feet is that okay I ask".

"Are they bad.?"

Yeah kinda I say real crusty and sick?

I go to get a mirror from my purse in hopes I angle it so she can see her feet.

" Yeah? I don't know how they got like that she says.  But then get real quiet as she see's the same girl that she reacted to by the elevator walk by her room , She puts her fingers up to her lips indicating for me to be quiet and a look of fear washes over her face. She points and watches as the woman disappears down the hall.

Mom try real hard to remember the last time somebody gave you a bath?

I like to take baths but they give showers out most of the time.

Does anybody wash your feet?

" I don't know"

"What's the matter mom". I can't tell you she says. Maybe later but I cant tell you now can you stay with me a little while. please don't leave me..


My mom is scared she is scared of somebody and her toes are rotting off. And I want to kick some bodies arse for making my mother suffer but a don't know who and I don't know how.

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