Friday, July 22, 2011

Never a Dull Moment

Last Friday, I visited Four Season Living Center to deliver a packet to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s team captain. I parked my car in my usual spot. My eyes automatically settled on a certain window; I swallowed hard and blinked back the tears. Jim lived in that room for four years, and we spent a lot of time there. Each day when I visited him, I didn’t know what to expect, but it seemed like there weren’t too many dull moments.

I didn’t recognize the lady behind the reception desk, but while I was talking to her, Danna walked up behind me. She greeted me with a smile and a hug.

“The lobby looks different than it did when the deer came crashing through and jumped into Jim’s room,” I said. For the benefit of the new worker, I briefed her on the deer story.

“It’s strange that you walked in here today,” Danna said. “I just got off the phone with Gwyn’s family. They wanted to know if we had a copy of the newspaper article about the deer. Gwyn passed away last week. Suddenly. She was only 46.”

I was shocked, and it took a minute for it to soak in. Gwyn, gone, when all I could think about was her sense of humor and how she was so full of life.

Danna called Gwyn’s family back and I talked to them. It seems that Gwyn had often told the story about the day the deer came to visit the nursing home. I promised to send them the “deer” story from my journal. Here is an excerpt from the story. 

Oh, Deer!
When I arrived at Four Seasons, I saw broken glass in the lobby and the admissions office.
“Linda, did you hear what happened?” Richard, the administrator asked me.
“Yes, they called me, but I can’t visualize how it happened.”
“The deer broke through that window over there,” he said pointing to a gaping hole in the south wall. “Then he ran across the lobby and into Pat’s office...”
“And I was talking on the phone,” Pat said, “this deer came charging into my office. I was just petrified. I just hung the phone up. I can’t even remember who I was talking to. The deer crashed out my window and ran across the lawn. Then we saw him leap through a resident’s window.”
“Then Lois ran down the hall and into Jim’s room and jumped on the deer,” Richard said.
“What? You jumped on the deer?” I asked, looking at the director of nursing. It was hard to believe that someone would do such a thing. “Where was Fred when all this was going on?” Fred was the nursing home’s adopted greyhound.
“He was right here, but he seemed to be as surprised as we were,” Richard said.
I walked rapidly down the hallway, hit the button to disarm the alarm and pushed the door open to the Alzheimer’s unit. Jim’s room was a shambles, with fragments of glass still in his air conditioning unit. Smears of blood on the floor, and deer hair stuck in the cracks and crevices made Jim’s room look like a crime scene. 
Gwyn and Mary started filling me in on the morning’s events: When the six-point buck made his unexpected entry through the window, most of the residents were in the dining room eating breakfast, except Jim, who was wandering the halls.
Mary was just getting ready to take Jim to his room to feed him when the deer careened into the room, glass and blood flying everywhere.  Lois arrived on the scene, pinning the thrashing deer to the floor with her best wrestling hold. Gwyn grabbed a blanket and told Lois she should get off the deer.  Gwyn threw the blanket over the wounded animal, then decided to sit on the deer to make sure it didn’t get up and run down the hall.
“I was sitting on the deer, hanging onto both antlers, and he started bleeding out of his mouth.  I said awwwwwwww, and let go and started petting him. Someone said ‘what are you doing!’ and I grabbed hold of both antlers again.”
Conservation agents responded to the 911 call and cut the wounded deer’s throat. The agent asked Gwyn if she had a hunting permit.
“No, why?” Gwyn asked him. She was alarmed, wondering why she needed a hunting permit when all she did was sit on the deer.
The agent started writing.  Oh, no!” Gwyn was thinking, “I’m going to get a ticket!” Instead, the conservation agent wrote out a permit allowing Gwyn to keep the deer.
“I’m from Arizona,” Gwyn told me, “where the deer stay in the woods where they belong!  I had never even seen a deer up close. I don’t know what I was thinking, other than I couldn’t let that deer get to my residents!” 

Like I said—never a dull moment. I can still hear Gwyn’s husky voice and her laughter.

Copyright (c) July 2011 L. S. Fisher
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