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  • Showing only topics with the tag "trauma". Back to normal view
    1. Misguided things our parents did

      I'd like to hear your stories of things your parents did with good intentions that went wrong. This is mine. When I was very young – old enough that I can remember it, but young enough that I...

      I'd like to hear your stories of things your parents did with good intentions that went wrong. This is mine.

      When I was very young – old enough that I can remember it, but young enough that I wasn't going to school full time yet – my mother would volunteer at a local nursing home. I never met my maternal grandmother. I think she died a year or two before I was born. I have a vague memory of meeting my maternal grandfather, and there are photos of it, but he died when I was still quite young. Maybe 4 or 5. I don't believe either of my grandparents were in ill health before their deaths. But I think that their deaths affected my mother and she wanted to help other elderly people, so she started volunteering at the nursing home.

      I have 2 older brothers who by this time were in school most of the day, leaving my mother and me at home alone. I think she also got bored of doing housework and wanted to do something useful with her time. (I can't say I blame her!) I suspect she also thought that the residents of the nursing home would enjoy interacting with a child, even if it wasn't their own grandchild. So she took me with her. I think she wanted me to learn to value elderly people and to learn to value community service.

      Unfortunately, she failed miserably. What I learned was that old people are scary as fuck and I didn't want to be anywhere near them. You this was a nursing home. This was not an "old folks home" where they play canasta, have dances, and engage in elderly hanky panky. This was end-of-life care for people dying of cancer, and the now-preventable diseases like polio. The entire place reeked of vomit, and the old people were hard of hearing and weird. They were almost always in a bed or wheelchair, and usually in hospital gowns. There were often sounds of screaming from other rooms where some patient was in terrible pain from whatever ailment they suffered.

      The residents were all old and gray haired except for one. He was a young man. He had to be younger than my mother who would have been in her early 30s. He was probably 20-ish years old. His hair was not gray - it was dark black and close cut with electric clippers, though not quite a crew cut. He was always in a hospital gown and always in a wheelchair that had an IV pole on it (though I don't recall there ever being anything hanging from it). And while he looked normal, he had some sort of mental deficit where he could only grunt and moan. I would often see him loudly moaning and gesticulating as if trying to point at something to say, "give me that," or "take me over there."

      The one bright side to this place was that there was a woman in a red and white striped uniform who pushed around a cart full of every type of candy imaginable! I wanted so much to get a peanut butter cup or a chocolate bar from her, but no. Her candy was strictly off-limits to me. (I don't know whether it was cost or health that made my mother refuse to ever let me have a piece of candy.)

      I'm pretty sure my mother was trying to teach me the value of both old people and volunteering to help our community. But as a ~4 year old, it was too much. It instead taught me that getting old meant pain, suffering, and eventually death, and that old people are scary as fuck. I didn't want to get old or be around old people. (I eventually got over it and now am nearing being an old person myself. 😉)

      20 votes