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The story is in the soil....


Specializes in Skilled geriatric nursing care. Has 12 years experience.

This is a story that has a meaning, serves a purpose and has changed my life. The story is in the soil... without the proper nutrients and water- plants can not bloom properly. And without love, friendship and a purpose- our lives would never be the sweet surrender of laughter and happiness that we find in each and every day.

The story is in the soil....

The first time I met Thelma*, she was rolling down the hallway in her wheelchair, sad deep blue eyes focused on something more than what was ahead of her. She wore a pink sweatsuit, her hair was a mess. I introduced myself, and all she could say was, "I just moved here because my husband died and my family couldn't take care of me anymore." She just moved into an apartment in our assisted living facility, she was upset because she felt like she didn't have a purpose in this world. She lost her husband, her house, and her friends. She would roll her wheelchair in the sunroom, and slowly water the plants. There were around four or five plants that she tended to.

A few months had passed, and something just changed in her. She started to put makeup on, she would spritz her "Beautiful" perfume on, and go on down to the sunroom, except this time there were many more plants that she was tending to. This was her sanctuary. She smiled and laughed, and she finally was starting to accept her new life in assisted living.

One night, I went to go to one of my male residents room and found a kleenex on his door handle; folded neatly and placed on the handle. I didn't think much of it, and picked it up and handed him the kleenex. He just said, "Oh that silly woman again..." and I just looked at him curiously. He said, "Thelma.... she does this every night. She sprays her perfume on a kleenex, and puts it on my door handle, so that when I come out of my room, it falls on the floor and lets me know that she was thinking about me." ...curiously, I had asked him for the kleenex and sure enough, it smelled just like her "beautiful" perfume. Tears started to form, but I quickly dismissed myself.

It's been over a year now since she has moved in. The love story has died, and yet she still tends to those plants. The room is full of beauty, and she makes sure that the plants are watered everyday, so that the room is comforting and beautiful to all those that come and visit. One evening, I had stopped by her room to see how she was doing. She invited me in, and sat me down and told me that she enjoys seeing my face and smile, that I just bring a presence of happiness to her. She told me that when she first moved in, how miserable she was. That she didn't feel like she could ever be happy again without her husband, that she just wanted to stay in her room, but she had quickly found the sunroom. She found that she could still make a difference- that her life story was not over. While I was sitting there in her room, she had showed me her wedding ring and told me to try it on. It fit perfectly! I told her it was beautiful, and that she was such a lucky woman to have had so many years to spend with her husband. I told her that I had been with my boyfriend for nearly two and a half years. She said, "Well what is he waiting for?!...when's he going to ask you?" We laughed, and she put the ring back on her finger, and I could tell by the way her eyes lit up that she was thinking about all the years of love she had spent with her now dearly departed husband.

A few days later, as I was leaving I had walked in front of the building, and there Thelma was...sitting in the sunroom. She knocked on the window and said, "Julie, come here for a second!" ...So, I walked over to her, and through the screen she had asked me if James (my boyfriend) had asked me for my hand in marriage yet. I said, "No Thelma....not yet, but maybe someday." She said, "Tell him I said size 7. That is the size of my ring, and it fit you perfectly." I couldn't help but smile. She went back to watering her plants, and as I left, I could tell that she finally found her solace.

Our motto for our assisted living community is, "Returning the Love" ... and I think this is a true enough story to put behind the returning the love; not only does she return the love to the caregivers and nurses she encounters, but also to the plants she takes care of and even some of her new friends. The story is in the soil... without the proper nutrients and water- plants can not bloom properly. And without love, friendship and a purpose- our lives would never be the sweet surrender of laughter and happiness that we find in each and every day.

*name changed

LPN; Specialty: Skilled geriatric nursing care

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6 Comment(s)


Specializes in Oncology&Homecare. Has 27 years experience.

It doesn't matter our age or gender. We all want to feel needed and appreciated. Your story points this out beautifully. Thank you for sharing it with us.:redpinkhe

I just LOVE the perfumed tissue on the door handle!! Carry on, Thelma!


Specializes in Nursing Eduator. Has 5 years experience.

With purpose, There is LIFE!....

Great story....So LOVED ALL OF IT!!!!!

You've touched my heart. We must enjoy every moment of our life and taking care of, no matter how bad or good it is, as long as we know how to takes care of the situations in life, its all a blessings.

*Sniff, sniff* Gr8 Story!


Specializes in Renal; NICU. Has 37 years experience.

Thank you for this story. It makes me realize how much I need to move on to something in my life in which to find fulfillment.

If Thelma can, maybe I can , too.