“Hi, Mabel! Do you have some time to talk to me?”
Mabel, I knew, had all the time in the world, since she refused to go to activities. She sat across from the nursing station, her hefty frame filling her extra-large wheelchair, watching the nursing staff, the other residents and the passersby.
Her greeting hadn’t warmed during the six weeks I’d been seeing her.
“If you want to,” she replied without enthusiasm. “What are we going to talk about?”
“Well, let’s get started and see where we go,” I said, slowly wheeling her into her room. “Your social worker says you’ve got a photo of yourself when you were young. I’d love to see it.”
She started rummaging through the frayed and bulging pocketbook on her lap, pulling out paper after paper.
“What are those?”
“Menus. They’re mementos.”
“I get three each day, and there are seven days a week, so that’s 24 a week. I’m saving them to make a scrapbook.”
“I see.” Her poor math skills took a back seat to the revelation that she was collecting the daily meal stubs distributed with each resident’s food tray. “Is that a hobby of yours, collecting menus from when you traveled?”