Several years ago, in attempt to keep Peter out and doing things with people other than me, I came up with a plan for him to take Nobby to visit local nursing homes. Therapy for patients and dog owner alike. Win-win.
Bill, Peter’s companion, takes them and though Peter grumbles before he goes, he always comes home smiling. He loves showing off his dog. The residents he visits ask the same questions every time, so it doesn’t matter that he gives the same answers and tells the same stories week after week. He always comes back saying he’s picked his room, or that he likes one facility better than another one.
After one visit, a nurse followed them down the hall, gave Nobby an extra pat and wrapped her arm around Peter’s shoulders. “I just love y’all,” she gushed.
Peter, never one for hugs, looked sideways at Bill and whispered, “Is she talking to you or me?”
Later, Bill was still laughing when he told me the story.
A couple years ago, friends in England suggested we Skype with them every few weeks. I give Peter a list of things he can talk about in case he gets stuck, which he often does, but Martin and Anna do most of the talking anyway. After the four of us chat for a few minutes, Anna and I leave the two old pals to reminisce, and I use the time, usually about forty-five minutes, to read or work outside or just sit — my therapy!
After one Skype session, Peter was extremely downcast, and that time he wanted a hug! “I can’t even talk anymore,” he said. He shook his head and sighed. “What would I do without you?”
I struggled to think of something to make him laugh, or at least smile. “Well, you’ve never been a talker, and remember, ‘someone has to listen,’” I said, reminding him of my dad’s family-famous saying. I fixed him a cup of tea, an Englishman’s cure-all, then asked, “Well, ‘without me,’ if I weren’t around any more, which home would you choose to live in?”
He wondered what I meant.
“Which nursing home,” I said. “You often tell me you like one better than another.”
“Oh, this one!” he said. “I’d stay right here.” He chuckled.