Soul2Soul Blog

You are my princess

belle staal“You are my princess. I am your prince charming. I come to wake you up.” Clara’s lips stretch into a soft smile. It is eleven in the morning. All dressed up, she is sleeping on top of her bed. She likes to be there during the day, lying on her back with abandon. “Clara, come with me, put your feet on the floor! –I am sleeping. I’ll kill you!” I repeat my phrases. I have done it before. I know Clara’s mind needs time to transition. “Put your feet on the floor to stand up. Come with me.” After a few minutes, Clara rotates her sturdy body towards the edge of the bed. Her feet reach the floor. Seated on the bed she looks at me: “Odile!” Her face lights up. “Come with me. –Where do we go? –We go downstairs to buy chocolate.” Clara settles into her wheelchair. She is wearing an elegant polyester dress with black and brown pattern. The wide collar is somewhat odd; probably the opening should be towards the back. But, as it is, it makes more space to display Clara’s many layers of colorful New Orleans carnival necklaces. I comment: “What pretty jewelry!” Clara smiles, coquette, as she wheels herself towards the bathroom door. She always brushes her hair before going out. I glance quickly over her back. Yes, her brush is accessible. Clara’s wavy grey hair reaches down to her shoulders. She takes time to carefully brush it, looking at herself in the mirror. “Where do we go? –We go to the store.” Clara loves to buy candy at the café’s counter. Before getting into the elevator, I grab Clara’s heavy chart. Clara reaches out for it. ”Do you want to carry it?” Without answering she places the thick binder on her lap. I am not going to pronounce the word doctor or clinic. I take her offer as a silent agreement. She is letting me know that she knows and that my approach is working. She is thankful that I am not hurting the part of her that could get upset and violent. At the café Clara picks her usual Hershey’s candy bar. “It’s free!” A few times, I have explained to her that the candy is charged on her account, but she is not interested to know that. She prefers it to be free. I open the wrapping for her. “I used to go to the movies on Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn. The movie was free but you had to buy candy for 10 cents.” Now that she is happily busy with the chocolate, I push her chair towards the clinic instead of the elevator. All my senses are waiting for signs of protest but, so far so good. Pointing to the sun spots on the hallway and to the blue sky I start singing “You are my sunshine…” She chimes along loudly between bites of chocolate. We enter a large empty room. “Where are we? –We are on the sea.” The pale green wall to wall carpet has an undulating pattern, just like water. We both enjoy the space, the large window, the wall of indoor plants. The clinic is on the other side. The audiology door is open. The light is on, but nobody is there. We get in. “We will wait for Bob.” I have to keep Clara busy or she is going to back out. I am going to tell her about my elementary school. Clara loves to learn the staff’s biographies. She proudly recites them. “I went to a one room school in a Paris apartment. There was no place to go for recess. We had to walk to the neighborhood park, children in line two by two in the street…” Eventually Bob arrives. He knows Clara and he knows me. He smiles at the story. When he approaches Clara’s ear, instruments in hand, she turns her head to face him. “Look in front of you.” I sit in front of her and resume the story, hoping to be more captivating than the sensations produced by the wax removal. “We did not wear a uniform only a required beige smock that was to be purchased at the department store, one block away. I loved going to that department store. Once they brought a huge water tank on the ground floor. A diver stayed there for a few days. I found that very interesting and scary…” Clara is looking at me. Bob is pulling out the wax. All goes well.

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