Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"S": A man of courage

Visiting the residence on Christmas, I delayed our departure with Matriarch Bear to go to Sibling Bear's  for the big day because I just had to greet all those I knew.  Ok.  So my greeting consisted of rushing them with a big hug and smile and singing "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" while jiggling up and down.  Not exactly a pretty sight.  But hey!  Everyone got a laugh and a smile out of it.

One of my favorite residents - actually my hands down, favorite resident - was one of the recipients of this display which he accepted with a huge smile.

Today, I want you to meet "S":  my favorite resident.

Now why did I pick the letter "S" for his blog moniker?  Why not start at the beginning of the alphabet with "A"?  Too prosaic.  Also too organized for me.  Besides that if I start with "A", then if I choose to highlight another resident, he or she will automatically become "B".  Bor-ing.  So "S" it is for today.

I became acquainted with "S" during my first in-residence visit in late 2011.  As a recoverer from Psychiatric Injury, I have developed hyper vigilance  - which was in full affect at the time.  Every nerve cell in my body on high alert - including my hearing.  I kept hearing this strong, highly intelligent sounding male voice from the table next to us.  I kept craning my neck to discover who this voice belonged to.  No, it couldn't be.  The gentlemen associated with this voice is affected by one of the choreas which causes his upper body to spasm.

Then, I kept hearing other residents talking about this man called "S" and how helpful he is.  All the things he does around the residence.  So I started watching this man who fights against his body every step of the way.  Every action.  How could he be the man I kept hearing everyone praising?  Could he even do the things he was purported to?

Then I actually talked to him.  I discovered a man with visible disabilities who genuinely cares about people, is determined to be useful and to live his life - despite the disabilities - to the fullest.  While his body betrays him, his mine is strong.  Intact.  He focuses on his abilities.  He also gets creative on how to handle some of his disabilities.

Most noticeably, "S" uses both a wheeled walker and a cane for mobility purposes - depending on the circumstances.  He also uses the residence's wheelchair as a mobility device using the seat to carry things since his hands/arms are otherwise occupied with the handles of his walker.  The first time I witnessed this was when "S" came through with with a case of bottles on the seat of the wheelchair.  My assumption was that he liked to drink - a lot.  Later I discovered that it was Wegman's (the local grocery store) day for the residents.  "S" was collecting the cans, bottles, etc. from the residents using the wheelchair as both his mobility device and collecting area to transport these things from the residents' apartments to the residence's van for transport.  Upon arrival at Wegman's the cans/bottles/whatever are put through a machine and the resident gets deposit money back.  Cool, eh?

Next, I kept hearing how "S" is active in the garden.  At that time, the garden was pretty well put to bed for the winter so I wasn't sure how "S" did this, what his role was, or if he even did anything at all.  All I had was heresay and ... well ... I may not be from Missouri but I sure do have the "show me" attitude aka I won't consider it as truth until I actually see it.

My second visit was in March.  It was then when rising early one day, I spied "S" walking around the residence again using the wheelchair as a mobility device.  This time with a bucket on the seat.  Conversing later with "S" about how I had inadvertently spied on him, he revealed that each day he walks around the building x number of times.  The last round, he looks for things growing in the garden which shouldn't be. Thus, the purpose of the pail - for putting the weeds he's pulled up.

Other faces of "S".  He's on the residents' council.  He makes things with his hands for other residents.  He plays pinocle.  And - the piece de resistance - he's know as the computer expert.  Reason being:  he knows the way to the computer room.  Also how to log onto the old, antiquated device.

"S"'s beloved garden 
I  have no idea what causes the chorea.  We've never talked about his disability and I've never asked.  I have no idea what his background is.  What he was before he entered the residence.  Whether he's a veteran or not.  Or even how old he is.  We've never talked about the past.  "S" focuses on the present.

My hat goes off to this man who could well be sitting in his apartment focusing on what he's lost.  Instead, I see a man of strength, of character who in his quest to live each day to the fullest enriches the lives of others in his vicinity.

Looking forward to seeing "S" next time I visit....

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