I peered into Ms. Alford’s room and saw a visitor sitting in the chair next to her bed, where she was sitting with a stack of photos on her lap. Ms. Alford noticed me and waved me into the room with a broad smile.
“This here’s my son, Willie.”
“And you are?” His worried eyes met mine.
“The psychologist, Dr. Eleanor Barbera. I’ve been seeing your mother since just after she arrived. I’m glad to meet you.”
“Can I talk to you?” He was out of his seat even before I got Ms. Alford’s nod of assent. We stepped into the hallway and spoke in hushed tones. “How’s my mother been doing? She was so depressed the last time she was here.”
“Well, she was very withdrawn and not eating well or working with the staff when she got here a few weeks ago, but she’s doing better now. I only see her once a week and I’m not on the floor all the time, but it seems to me things improved after I took her upstairs to meet with an old coworker of hers who happens to live here too.”
“Really?” He looked at me with pleased surprise.
“I tried to get them to hook up at some activities afterwards, but it can be hard to arrange. Being on different floors can be as difficult to connect as being in different states. But here’s her friend’s name and room number,” I scribbled it on a sticky note, “If you could help them get together, that would be great.”
“I could definitely do that.”
I shifted my gaze to his mother, who was watching from her bed in her house dress, her hair flying in every direction. I waved and she smiled and waved back. “Your mom really needs to get her hair done.”
“I used to cut it for her. I could do that again. It would be a great bonding activity.” His mood was lighter and he sounded excited.
“That would be awesome. I’m sure she’d really appreciate that.”
We headed back into Ms. Alford’s room and the three of us talked for a while before I signaled it was time for me to leave.
“Thank you so much,” Willie Alford said to me, “you’ve given me more than I could have hoped for.”
“I’m glad,” I replied, happy Ms. Alford had a son who so obviously cared about her welfare.