I went to see Sylvie again today at a rehabilitation center 45 minutes away.
I brought her one of her favorite hats from her room – I got it a Vermont thrift shop a year ago. I could not find her address book but I did bring her several of her journals, some envelopes with paid stamps and some pens and writing paper.
She was very happy to see the hat and took her towel off.
Sylvia was tired, and a but fuzzy, I didn’t stay long.
She was happy to hear that people were going to send her cards (Alicia Busser, Room 18 A, Washington Center For Rehabilitation and Healthcare, 4573 State Route 40, Argyle, N.Y., 12809.) She was relieved she could write back.
She also surprised me by telling me she was leaving this rehab center “very soon” and was being taken to a facility in the Southern Adirondacks, it was closer to her family she said. I didn’t ask why or when.
A lot of people messaged me today, including Sue Silverstein at Bishop Maginn High School. I was upset seeing Sylvia so uncomfortable Thursday, and when I want someone to pray for something or somebody, I ask a person I know to be more experienced at it than I am. Since I’m not sure what I believe in, I prefer my prayers be sent by someone who does, they will carry more weight.
Sue Silverstein, the art teacher at Bishop Maginn High School came to mind.
Sue Silverstein teaches theology as well as art, and I asked her if she prayed regularly, and if so, could she put in a word for Sylvia. She messaged me later that she prays all the time, and her whole class was busy writing letters to Sylvie and sending them off Friday. That was a pretty strong dose of good.
I don’t know if Sylvie will still be at this same place on Monday, but I asked the staff if they would be sure to forward any cards or letters to her, wherever she was going, and they said they would.
It was very nice of Sue’s class to do this, and I know others are sending Sylvie cards as well.
I did leave Sylvie – she was very tired, she couldn’t stay awake long – with something of a heavy heart. I’m not sure if I will be seeing her again, unless she returns to the Mansion, and she seems headed in a different direction. I know nothing of her diagnosis or prognosis or treatment, I just don’t know if she will be back.
And I won’t be visiting her again.
Most of the time when residents leave the Mansion for rehab, they don’t return. The be in the Mansion, you have to be ambulatory.
Sometimes people do come back.
I need to let it go and continue my Mansion work and my work with Bishop Maginn School and my blogging and podcasting. (Please check out the new Bishop Maginn High School Wish List, only a couple of items left – eight copies of the summer reading book, Kite Runner, and 3 Acer Chrome laptop for the school’s teachers and students. We need about 20 more laptops but we have until September. Donations for computers are tax-deductible. More microscopes will be added to the list soon.)
Sylvie is special to me and to many other people. I’ve been doing therapy work with hospice and elder care for more than a decade now with different dogs – Lenore, Izzy and Red – I am careful not to get too close.
But some people get into your heart, we are all human.
I love Sylvie’s stories about growing up in post war Europe and traveling with her diplomat father. She talks very openly about her mental illness and the institutions she as lived in almost all of her life.
I love her imperiousness, and her stories about her the dog lost in the mountains, his howls echoing off the snow, and of the two men she loved, both of whom are dead now. I asked her once why she didn’t want to play bingo, and she said it was because the boy she loved played bingo, and it was just too painful to do it.
I remember the night I went to the Jehovah’s Witness service to hear her sing. She loves that community, they were – are – wonderful to her.
I’m not a moper, should it come to that, I don’t look back much, I have a lot to do, and I respect life, always. I don’t deny what is life’s to decide. And this is not a eulogy, I have no idea whether I will see Sylvie again or not, or whether she will be able to get up and walk.
I still miss Connie and Joanie. I’ve learned a lot from the aides about keeping my distance and letting go, the veterans say you can’t help it, it hurts, and I’ve learned that myself. Sometimes it hurts to be a human.
Godspeed Sylvie, wherever you go. I look forward to walking into the Mansion one day and seeing you pushing your walker with Tote Bags handing off the sides, waiting for me with a fistful of letters with messed up addresses, claiming someone took your stamps, and with a new hat on your head. I’ll straighten the letters out for you, you admit that you have issues with zip codes.
If for some reason, we don’t meet again, may the angels ride with you always. You deserve some time in paradise.
Sylvie asked again for cards or letters (especially cards) to sent her, if she moves, they will be forwarded to her new residence. Sylvie Bussee, Washington Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare, 4573 State Route 40, Argyle, N.Y., 12809.