“Where could I get a book like this one?”Simone lifts her walker’s seat. She pulls out a square paperback, and start turning the pages: ”Look, I finished it. ” I admire page after page of carefully colored mandalas. I noticed that some seems unfinished. Maybe Simone considered the white of the paper as a color and included it deliberately in her choice of hues. “How did you get this book? –I don’t know. –Could you ask your daughter? –Oh no, she has a lot of worries right now. I cannot bother her.“ I ask the social worker if she ever purchased coloring books for Simone. She did not.
The following day, Simone enquirers:”Do you know someone who could use that book?” From under her walker’s seat she pulls a paperback similar to yesterday’s one. “I don’t like it.” I leaf through the untouched drawings of animals and plants. “What is bad about it?” Simone points her index to the pages where the picture nearly reaches the edge of the page: “Here and here it does not work. That’s not good. Do you know where I could buy a book like this? –Let me search for the publisher. –I will give you the money. How much is it?” I have never ordered something for a resident. I am not sure how to handle the transaction. I reach out to my supervisor who answers: “Norine has lots of coloring books. I will make you some copies.”
The following week, she leaves a stack of line drawings in my mail box. Despite my request, not a single mandala is included. I will give the stack to Brigitte who loves to doodle on top of drawings. I get back to my supervisor: “Thanks for the drawings, but I was looking for mandalas. –O sorry, I forgot. You can order what Simone Simone needs. Does she have the funds? If not, the Life Enrichment department can pay for it.” I search “mandala coloring book”. A $4.99 paperback seems close to what Simone liked. I invite Simone to sit with me in front of the computer screen. I point to the book. She does not know the word mandala and does not retain my explanation of it. She tries to steer me away to other titles. I patiently suggest that the others may contain the kind of pictures she does not like. Going back to my initial book choice, I notice a prompt: “Click on all the 34 images”. I show the series of grey little post stamp size mandalas, each barred with a thick diagonal black line, to Simone. “Look! These are the kind of pictures you like. –No, it does not look like it.” She is right. She is not searching for a sheet of grey stamps. But I am happy to have found the book. I order it.
Three days later, I give Simone the coloring book. The colorful mandala over a black background of the cover, and the square paperback format are similar to her previous book. We are both satisfied. “Thank you for ordering it. How much do I owe you? – Five dollars and forty one cents. “ Simone rushes to her room to get the purse that contains her bingo earnings. She returns to count the money in front of me. She has no pennies. I don’t mind.
A few days later Simone walks up to me. She lifts her walker’s seat and pulls out the new book: “I like it a lot. Look!” She has already meticulously filled two pictures. Coming close to me she whispers with a twinkle in her eyes: “I like to do it when I am in the bathroom.”