Skip to content Skip to navigation

Time to say goodbye

June 29, 2015
by Kathleen Mears
| Reprints

Over the years I have met many nursing home employees. Those who were always closest to me—since they were with me more—were the aides. Some of them were naturally funny and kept me giggling all the time. Others were so contentious I struggled to hold my tongue—and often failed. The aides who touched me most, tried to please me and in so doing we both had a better day.

I have watched many aides leave for a variety of different reasons. Some became nurses, some moved on to another job and some moved away. The ones who took good care of me took part of me with them when they left.

Saying goodbye is not easy. Even when an aide and I did not relate to each other, I missed challenging myself to get along with her.

An aide I will call Marcy left several days ago. For over a year, she has been planning to move to another state to be closer to family. She hoped to leave at the end of May. But last-minute complications kept her working here a few weeks longer. Many of us residents knew she was leaving. When it was time for her to go, she was not able to give much notice.

I thought she got along well with the residents. At times, however, I know she struggled to get along with her coworkers. Marcy took longer to care for us which aggravated some of the other aides. She also liked to do things her way. Since she took good care of me, I could not complain about her method.

A male resident across the hall was always pleased to have Marcy as his aide. He liked to tease her and at times tried to cross the line—but she would gently put him in his place. I know he will miss her.

As the time got closer for Marcy to leave, I found myself becoming quiet when she did my care. My self-preservation instincts were kicking in. I was trying to detach, hoping I would not feel as much of a loss after she left. But I willingly listened to Marcy’s conversations because I knew she needed moral support.

On Marcy's last day as my aide (the day before she left), I did not know what to say. She told me she knew she would be crying by the end of her last day. She told me she loved the residents and would miss them. I hope we residents gave her the support she may not have received from others

On her last day, Marcy helped the other two aides get me into bed as usual. For some reason I was afraid she would just walk out without saying goodbye. As Marcy stood on the right side of my bed, and with two other aides in my room, I said, "Good luck. Take care of yourself will you?"

Marcy answered only with her eyes. I turned my eyes away and she left with the other aides.

Five minutes later there was a knock on my door. Marcy came in with tears welling in her eyes, and said, "Take care of yourself." I said, "Bye." When she closed the door, I felt two big tears roll down my face.


Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...