Night Watch

by Jim Papworth

It is two a.m. and the Nursing Home halls are quiet and dim. I walk through the first floor, looking in each room to make sure my charges are resting easy. I pass the nursing station, nod and smile in silent greeting. I head down the South wing.

Ina is reading, she doesn't sleep much. She likes war novels. Can you believe that? Here is this 91 year old woman, hair primly "up" for the night, commanding fleets and armies courtesy of Tom Clancy and W.E.B Griffin. I get the latest about how we SHOULD have resolved the thing with China about them holding our Navy plane crew. I agree. Ina's a trip.

I come to Tommy's room, he's awake in bed. He's not really aware of where he is any more. It hurts me to see that. I go in and sit beside him. He likes me to do that, it seems to bring him comfort. Soon he is asleep again, resting at peace. That makes me feel good, let's me know that I do matter around here.

Back to the nursing station I push the button to summon the elevator. My colleagues are down the hall helping Norma into bed after the hourly trip to the bathroom. I wave with my head to them as the elevator door whispers open, get on, and press the button for the second floor.

The Duke lives in 228 and joins me as I complete my rounds. His real name is Harold but nobody EVER calls him anything but "The Duke." The Duke's another of our "characters." He pretends to be an old curmudgeon, but he's really an old sweetie. The Duke sees us and he goes into his routine about: "How can a guy get a little rest in this joint with every body parading by every ten minutes?"
The Duke was in the Navy and has coins from all over the world. Each coin has a story and if you don't mind the frequent themes of bars, fights, and the many ladies that have graced The Duke's life, the stories are fascinating. I love The Duke.

Well, time for me to take a break. The kitchen crew will be in soon, I'll be supervising breakfast as always. This is a really full time job. I've no complaints though. I wouldn't want it any other way.

A little over a year ago I was really down and out. My family had broken up and it looked like I wasn't going to have much of a future. When you think about it, I'm lucky to be alive at all. I have no complaints now. I'm needed here and valued for what I bring to the job.

My name is "Angel." I'm a 5 year old female White Boxer. A former "owner surrender." Today I'm a full time, Resident Therapy Boxer in a Nursing Home in New Jersey .
Thanks for letting me share my story with you.

Angel really exists. The residents portrayed are real and are examples of some of the wide range of this home's residents.