Monica has been working in the kitchen of a nursing home since February. Technically she is not employed by the nursing home because she is in a Community Work Experience program through an agency that provides job training for people … Continue reading
Monday morning chores.
No dust can settle on this girl!
Wake up. Get dressed in work uniform. Eat breakfast. Brush teeth. Put lunch in backpack.
Empty and load dishwasher.
Gather laundry from hampers in the bedrooms. Take to laundry room and start a load. Whites first.
Take the city-issued garbage and recycling bins to the curb.
Practice piano – 10 minutes.
While watching for your ride, practice Italian lessons with Duolingo on the iPad.
When van comes, head out the door. Greetings to work friends! Off to work.
And it’s only 7:45 a.m.!
When we say our evening prayers, each person in the family says what they are thankful for that day. We are always thankful for each other and a roof over our heads and food on the table. Sometimes we get bogged down with other concerns and forget how much there is to be happy about. If you listen to the news items today, it could all seem so sad. Physician-assisted suicide, abortion, challenges to marriage and family, quality of life debating, corruption in public figures are all serious concerns. Listening to Monica’s nighttime gratefulness puts everything where it should be. Yesterday was Monica’s birthday, so she had extra items to be thankful for, but nearly every day her list is this long.
Last night Monica said:
“I am thankful that I was born. I am thankful that I went to Mass. I am thankful that the waitresses sang Happy Birthday and brought me cake. I am thankful that I took muffins to my co-workers. I am thankful that I got to give the blanket to Hillary. I am thankful that Danny came to dinner. I am thankful for the balloons and everyone texting me and calling me and emailing me to say Happy Birthday.”
I don’t think anyone in the family receives the kind of attention that Monica receives on her birthday, but it is clearly because it is reciprocal! The rest of us are so much more reserved in our own expressions of kindness. Monica really does remember to send cards and call and text other people, not just for their birthdays, but if they are sick or to express sympathy for a loss or to congratulate for an accomplishment. She is always making gifts and going out of her way to show love to others.
My good friend Terese had many medical problems, surgeries and diabetes, but we never expected to lose her so young. Other than family, she was the closest person to Monica. Terese passed away last week with no warning; I guess as a complication of the diabetes. Terese had been a true friend to Monica. Monica was very sad to hear the news and began writing about her memories. She made notes over the next day or two and finally copied it all over into one document. I helped her to add the punctuation and capitalization, but here are her words.
This is about my friend Mrs. Hardman.
I went to her house to visit her. I helped her decorate. I watched Darby play with them. My mom and I took Mrs. Hardman to a Dr. appt. check up. Then I visited her and we took her to Mrs. Hyland’s for the rosary group. When she visited me one time, we set up snack down stairs, visiting with Erin and Baylee. I am thinking of her a lot. Another time I visited her I helped her with the dishes and putting them away. I remember when she was at the hospital when Erin had baby Baylee. We went to see her. Mrs. Hardman came to watch me at my bowling. Mrs. Hardman and I went to Subway for lunch. One time we went to the library to see all of Elizabeth’s kids and played with them at the puppet show. I saw Mr. Hardman at the hospital too. I prayed for him with Mrs. Hardman. When we visited Mrs. Hardman I played with Darby. At the St. Angela parish picnic I sat with Mrs. Hardman. Mr. Hardman was laughing. Mrs. Hardman had to stay downstairs. Mr. Hardman helped her when she went outside. Mrs. Hardman came to my caroling party. She sang the songs and she helped me find the right page of the music. I saw Mrs. Hardman at 9:30 mass every Sunday. Darby made her happy. She is a good dog to Mrs. Hardman. Mrs. Hardman was always happy to see me. When I went to my brother Gabriel and Lauren’s wedding, Mrs. Hardman was at the hotel with me. She saw my cousins too. Mrs. Hardman came to my brother Greg’s graduation party at my house. I saw Mrs. Hardman a lot of times. We had a great time. She visited with my brother Greg when he came home from college. She texted me. Mrs. Hardman was in the hospital too. I visited her at different rooms at two hospitals. She gave me Diet Pepsi at one room. When Gabriel and Lauren were here, Mrs. Hardman saw them at Mass and said hello to them and Johanna. I visited Mrs. Hardman and we watched TV and she offered me a drink and a snack so nicely. I prayed for Mrs. Hardman. She let me play with Darby a while. When they were in an apartment, I helped to do some packing. When we visited at the apartment, we made Valentines. Mr. Winter and Mr. Lupson helped moving things to the apartment. I remember everyone helping loading the cars to move all the things. Last summer we had Hardman Happy Hours on the Friday afternoon. My brothers Greg and John came too. I like talking to Erin and Mr. Hardman when I visited Mrs. Hardman. Darby played at Happy Hours too. A while ago I went to physical therapy with my mom and then I visited Mrs. Hardman. Mr. Hardman and Mrs. Hardman came to my brother Dan’s Eagle Scout and graduation party. And they came to the party for Gabriel’s graduation and the party for my graduation from high school. Mrs. Hardman and my Mom and me all had lunch at Subway one day. I was helping her when she had a surgery. Sometimes I visited Mrs. Hardman at her house. For my birthday when I was 16 years old, Mr. and Mrs. Hardman decorated my front yard. We played card games together. Mrs. Hardman talked to me when I was watching for my bus to pick me up. Mrs. Hardman talked to me on Erin’s wedding day. They had me pass out the programs at Erin’s wedding. When it was Easter break, we played cards. I saw Mrs. Hardman at church on Easter. Mrs. Hardman and my aunt Carol came to my dance recital to watch me. Mrs. Hardman came to my program at Lake Shore Day Camp too. Mrs. Hardman took me and John out to breakfast one day. The Hardmans came to my house at Christmas and brought cookies. When my Mom went to college Miami to pick up my brother Greg, Mrs. Hardman picked me up from my bus and took me to her house and we stayed a while. Mr. Hardman made a fire in the backyard for everyone. A lot of time I am praying for Mrs. Hardman. Mrs. Hardman and Erin took us to the golfing place and we had ice cream. I am thinking of her a lot and I am still loving her a lot.
During Christmas break, the girls went on a bike ride. Monica turned sharply to go up a curb and had a fall. She got back on the bike after a hug from her sister and rode home. That night we heard her noisily going into the bathroom. When we checked on her, she was crawling down the hall. When asked why, she explained that she could not walk. A visit to the emergency room showed a broken ankle.
Like much of life with Monica, this was a great adventure.
We thought you might find it interesting to know how this experience is different from other kids. Monica has no capacity for worrying about the future. She never had the disappointed realization that she can’t play basketball this year. She is not discouraged about how long it will be before she can ride her bike again. She is simply living the adventure of getting thru her day without putting her foot down. She is figuring out how to turn on the light switch and take a shower and get dressed and get in the van. And it’s all a fascinating fun challenge to her.
At the emergency waiting room, she was looking at all the downtrodden ill or injured around her and making cheerful conversation…asking people ‘how was your Christmas?’ As others would get called in, she would tell them, ‘have a happy new year!’ The TV that day was full of death (James Brown, President Ford and Saddam Hussein). She would tell people, ‘don’t watch that, want to play I Spy?’ Each person who attended her was told, ‘thank you for taking care of me’. She truly brings out the best in people; they just can’t help but hold their head a little higher after she commends them. When it was time for the cast, she was not swayed by the kid in the next bed choosing orange; she was so happy to choose green. She told the orthopedic assistant doing her cast that he did a very nice job of it. When John fell down the other day, she slid off her chair and scooted on her bottom as fast as anyone else on foot, to see if he was alright. If anyone new sees her in the cast, she tells them ‘it’s getting better already’. We all need to see the world a little more the way Monica does – it’s getting better already.