We enter through the visitor's foyer. We no longer need to stop at the front desk, we head straight back and ride the carpeted elevator to the main floor. The girls take turns pressing the M button. Meenie no longer hesitates before steeping into the elevator, no longer holds my hand. We step off at our floor and walk through the doors that say Rehab. In front of us is a nursing station, to the right a hallway of patient rooms, to the left a sitting area. It's all carpeted, to keep the patients from falling, prolonging their stay. As we turn, we see her sitting there. Always on the right side of the sitting area, all alone in her wheeled chair, baby doll wrapped in her arms. There she sits not really watching the fish, not the TV. Just sitting. On the left, they sit, side by side, as close as their wheeled chairs allow. His hand always cupping hers. Watching the news together.
We turn left and head down the hall towards the next nursing station. We see people as we pass by, nurses, CNA's, PT's and patients and residents. Some in wheel chairs, propelled by their arms, their legs, however they can get along. Other require help. Some are up in walkers. They stop and say hi. Not really to me, but to the three little one's with me. At first, they stepped closer to me, clutching their treats (a snack, a picture, a plucked flower). Now they smile and say hi. They offer a hand. No longer are they afraid. They've become accustomed to being stopped and asked questions. Even the nurses slow down as we make our way down the hall.
We now turn left, third door on the right.
They walk in, handing over their gifts. "Hi Mema*, how are you today?". And then we visit. They sit on the bed, talking about their day. They walk down the hall, carefully matching her slow and steady steps, holding onto the walker as if to help. We visit the birds and if it's nice, step out onto the patio. They play with the bunny. Watch the birds. Run and sing and dance. And of course, they visit.
We walk her back to her room, and then it's time to say good-bye. "we'll come back tomorrow they tell her. We'll bring you something nice". And with that, we walk back down the hall, retracing our steps back.
"I love this place" they tell me, as the stop to admire the water fountain on the way back to the car.
*My mother-in-law had her knee replaced last week. She's doing great and we expect her to come home this week.