Wrigley kicked her foot against the seat of the van. “I don’t like this place,” she whined. ”I want to go to the farm, not here. This is scary-looking.” Wrigley’s lower lip stuck out, “This is stupid. I still don’t see why we have to visit Grandma here.”
Mommy patted Wrigley’s shoulder. She looked into her young daughter’s eyes. She wasn’t sure she could ever get Wrigley to understand why Grandma needed to live in a nursing home. Usually Wrigley was excited to see Grandma. Now she could barely get her out of the van.
Wrigley took a deep breath and walked into the brick building. Grandma was waiting for her in the lobby. Wrigley’s face lit up and she ran into Grandma’s arms. “Oh Grandma, I missed you. But why do you have to live here. C’mon, I bet I can talk Daddy into taking you home. Daddy always does what I want.” Wrigley glared at her mom. She thought it was Mommy’s fault that Grandma was stuck in this stinky place.
Grandma scooped Wrigley up in her arms. “I've missed you, too. Now that I live here, I’ll be closer to you and you can come visit me more often.”
“But the farm was fun. It smelled like fresh flowers. This place just smells yucky.”
Grandma shook her head, “Wrigley, I’m happy here. I was alone and had too much work to do at the farmhouse. The helpers here clean, cook my meals, and wash my clothes. I’ve also met many new friends. We have fun here. There’s BINGO, an aerobics class, sing-a-longs, sometimes we play cards. Plus I can always go to my room if I need a little quiet time. You’re not looking at this place with the right set of eyes.”
Wrigley giggled, “Grandma, you’re silly. I only have one set of eyes.”
“Well, precious one, tell me what do your pretty blue eyes see when they look at that?”
Wrigley’s eyes followed Grandma’s finger, “That’s just a candy machine. Candy is good, but nothing special.”
“Why, when I look at it, I see Willy Wonka and his factory. He’s busy making candy and giving everything a touch of color.”
Wrigley noticed a very old lady sitting in a chair. She had a tray in front of her. She kept shaking it and screaming, “Out,.” Wrigley couldn’t stop staring at her. The louder the lady screamed; the closer Wrigley snuggled against Grandma.
“Don’t be afraid, Wrigley,” Grandma said. ”That lady is Mrs. Johnson; she’s just a little confused. She has the tray across her lap so she won’t accidentally get up and fall and hurt herself. Pretend she is the Queen of a country, the chair is her throne, and she is protecting all of her people.”
“But why would a Queen be yelling, Grandma?”
“She’s yelling because there’s a lion coming around the corner. Look, see him trying to sneak up,” Grandma pointed to a yellow, fluffy cat.
“They let cats live here too?”
“Oh yes, the doctors believe pets can help people feel better. Some people here don’t have family to visit with. So Puddles keeps them company. She seems to know who needs loving at just the right time.”
Wrigley, Grandma and Mommy walked down the hall to see Grandma’s bedroom. Wrigley was surprised to see Grandma’s bed, desk, favorite chair, and best of all, the special toy box in her new room. Grandma noticed the surprised look on her granddaughter’s freckled face. “The nurses encourage residents to bring personal belongings in so it feels like home. It really doesn’t look that different from my room at the farm, does it? Why don’t you check out the toys while Mommy and I visit?”
Wrigley ran over to the toy box, soon she forgot that she was in a strange place, everything seemed familiar. After a little while, Wrigley went up to Grandma and pointed to a wooden cross on the wall, “Grandma, what’s that?”
Grandma looked at Wrigley with surprise, “Why Wrigley, you know that’s my special cross my grandfather made for me. He craved it from the old Dogwood tree in the yard. You must have heard that story a hundred times.”
Wrigley shook her head and said.”No Grandma, I see a Valentine’s Day card, handmade by Jesus Himself.”
Grandma hugged Wrigley and said,”Ohh… I see it now too.”
“I love you Grandma, no matter where you live.”
“I love you too, precious one.”
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