By Loretta Humble/Around the Town
My knee has been replaced, and I am home! Cedar Lake Nursing Home, that is, for a week or two of rehab. And this is just about as much home to me as my house, as it has been a huge part of my life since 1967. People, that is 47 years! Sonny, our 56-year-old administrator, was 9 years old when we got Cedar Lake. It boasted 30 beds, and consisted of the area next door that is now the Rehab gym and offices. It stopped where the fire doors are now. Each of those wings was added on later. We got this place with no money down, because we had no money. Just a lot of notes. And we didn’t have any other jobs to support us, and even those 30 beds were not all filled. If we’d had good sense, we wouldn’t have stuck our necks out on a risky venture like this. But I am so glad we did. It turned out just fine.
The main reason it turned out so fine was waiting for us when we got here. Her name was Charlene Abbe then, though its Owen now. She had way more than her share of common sense and old fashioned caring, and she was and is, a praying woman. She was fresh out of LVN school, and working the evening shift, but was already running the facility for Dr. Joe, who had built it for his son, Sam, who had other things in mind to do with his life. I’m thinking things could have turned out a whole lot differently if Charlene hadn’t been there with us every step of the way, helping us grow Cedar Lake into a place to be really proud of.
Then there was this nurse aide, Stella Tolliver, another woman of exception common sense and good will. They became not just trusted employees, but the family’s best friends as well. There were plenty of other excellent people there in the beginning, who worked with us for years, then retired or passed on, but those two are still going strong, and who still own my tremendous love and gratitude. In fact, Charlene came to see me yesterday, and she has already called Stella, and we are going to get together and do our annual memory-reliving session while I am a patient here.
This is probably real disjointed. I started to skip my column this week, as pain meds are keeping me slightly tipsy, and I don’t want to say anything much dumber than I usually do. But I wanted to let you know I made it, and that it looks like the surgery is going to turn out great. I’ve had some discomfort, but not all that much. They keep asking me “on a scale of 1 to 10…?” But I have no idea what a 10 would be like; I just know I haven’t got anywhere near to that.
Doug Humble Jr., Sonny’s dad and still co-owner of the nursing home, honored us with one of his rare visits today. We were sitting out front at the nursing home, because that was the only way we could get our cell phones to work, when all of the sudden Lola Mae Kitchens walked up. It took us a while to recognize one another, but all finally agreed we are actually holding up pretty well. Kitchens, as we always called her, was always a big cut up, and a great nurse. I remember her as a trim, feisty little thing in her white nurse dress and cap. Actually, at nearly eighty, she is still a trim, feisty little thing. She reminded me she was working at the nursing home when Doug and I and our three small kids first showed up.
She said she always told people we didn’t know a bedpan from a doorknob. I don’t think she was totally right about that. We knew what a doorknob was. We got in, didn’t we?