Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010: Fray Rodrigo and a Storm

We got approval to return to the public senior home that I mentioned in an earlier post: Fray Rodrigo De La Cruz. This morning, we were eager to take the hefes (or bosses) up on their offer to observe, and so we went to spend time in the Occupational Therapy Clinic. When the research team and I entered the room, the only OT started to tell us about… I’m not really sure what because I didn’t listen at all! I was distracted because a male resident was sitting right next to us, with his shirt off, and he was hemming the sleeves with an antique sewing machine.

After 5 minutes of ignoring the OT and observing the man, I asked the man what he was doing. He pulled 2 long sleeves out from his pocket and told me he hated the long sleeved shirts they gave him, so he cuts them off and turns his shirts into short-sleeved one. He said he was a tailor by trade and so it was easy for him. I was amazed that they even had a sewing machine, and better yet, let the man just use it at his will without supervision. While I don’t see anything wrong with this since he was perfectly capable of hemming a sleeve, I guess it was odd to see because senior homes in the US seem much more strict about things like that.

Soon after the man left with his new shirt, a group of residents came in for the morning activity of shoe shining. I never thought that this would be so popular but the room got crowded with men who wanted to shine their own shoes.  They all helped each other take off their shoes or shine them if someone couldn’t. I was in awe of everything that happened in the room during this activity… people were showing off their newly shined shoes to us, taking turns helping one another out, engaging in conversation… so many things! What a difference from Casa Maria.

I also met a nice young man who became a good friend. When I say young, I mean under 70. My new buddy is from the same town as my grandma of Quetzaltepece and he is a year or two older than her. It’s such a small town so when he told me the name I was thrilled, then he got excited because I had family from there… we had a connection. He taught me how to make alligator key chains out of beads and string. He lit a candle which I thought was a strange attempt at setting the mood, and then I observed him burning parts of the string and putting the flame out with his fingers… again- probably against the rules in the US assisted livings, but it’s fine here in Guatemala. I learned about his family, I told him about mine, and then I taught him how to say his name with an English accent, which he thought was hilarious.

After this morning, I returned to Spanish class to tell my teacher about everything I saw. She knows both places well and it was hard for me to be neutral on the subject. There’s just so much more to do at Fray Rodrigo that I feel different when I leave the place. If Casa Maria is so boring to me after only spending a couple of hours there, I can’t imagine how the residents must feel. We all need things in our life to look forward to, no matter how simple they are. I’m sure some people at Casa Maria have that, but there’s way more people at Fray Rodrigo that have that.