June Hagwitz was a problem patient....Er, I mean "Client". She had been in the Assisted Living Center for about 2 years now.

Everyone knew who she was, very few people had ever had a conversation with her. She would nod her head when someone said,"Good Morning! And how are we today?" There were some particularly emotion filled moments when she would grunt while she nodded.

The director of the center insisted on having staff meetings once a month, all the employees had to be present and they would go down a list of patients... Er......Excuse me, "Clients", to see if anyone was having problems. They had started doing this when it was discovered that Mrs. Tooti had run off with the driver of the senior citizen bus. No one had missed her until her daughter came to visit her for the first time that year.

The lawsuit was still in the works. And Mrs. Tooti was still in Atlantic City with the bus driver and refused to return.

They discussed an ongoing problem with the laundry.

There were so many missing items, and it was mostly the men who were complaining. There was a laundry room for all to use and people were always very careful to keep things separate. The women laughed about it because it was common knowledge that men just didn't know how to do laundry. They would throw all the stuff in one load, whites, colors, heavy, fine, bathmats and socks. No wonder they couldn't keep track of it!

When June's name was mentioned, everyone there just went..."HHHMmmmmm.....OK, I guess." The director suddenly sat up straighter, "What do you mean, you GUESS?" They explained how things were and that June just didn't have much to say to anyone. For some reason, the director decided to make it an ISSUE!

He called out his SWAT team of social workers and recreation aides. They were to make an assault on June and INVOLVE her.

Month after month, they had nothing to report on June being involved with anyone. One social worker did say, "I think I made some progress, she grunted twice at me when I suggested she try joining the art group."

The social worker was fired on the spot.

Finally, the director showed his temper, "I have made a decision! I will, PERSONALLY, go and visit with Ms. Hagwitz. She may need to be transferred to another facility for the mental if she is out of touch with reality."

Mr. O'Hea drew himself up to his full 5' 4", and stomped out of the room. He headed to the elevators and punched the buttons. Some said later that they noticed small streams of steam emanating from his ears.

He knocked lightly on June's door. "Hello? Ms. Hagwitz?

Excuse me, I am the director and would like to speak to you." The door opened and a round pink face looked out......"(grunt.)" She stepped away from the door and walked to her sofa. The director came in and looked around. Nothing was out of place or strange. The TV was off and June sat looking at him.

After spending 45 minutes getting only grunts and nods from her, he started begging. "Please, PLEASE SPEAK TO ME! I have to know that you are alright! You know, no bats in the belfry?"

June had reached into a bag sitting next to her, it was some sort of material in squares. She was sewing it into a patchwork quilt. "Look Mr Director, I just want to do my quilting. I don't know anyone here and I don't want to do artwork with fingerpaints or sculpture with Play Doh. I don't like TV except for 'Survivor'. I have my own way of making the time pass. I make quilts. I have been doing that for years. I have no family and I don't go to church. I don't need to "communicate" with anyone. I do what I do and that's all I need to do. Now will you leave me alone?"

Mr O'Hea almost fell over. She could talk! He was so thrilled that she had spoken to HIM, He reached out and grabbed her hand. "Thank You For Sharing Ms Hagwitz!

We were concerned that you didn't like it here or maybe you couldn't talk. I am satisfied that all your needs are being met......By the way, that looks like a gorgeous quilt you are making. Is there anything that you need to keep your hobby going? Anything at all?"

June grunted and looked in the bag. She ruffled through the squares of different colors and designs.

"One thing you could do for me.....

Tell Mr Manischevitz to stop bleaching his pajamas. It's hard to match them up when the tops are lighter. I had a good design going until he threw the bleach in the wash. And Mr O'Leary needs to be more careful. His shorts I have to cut out the skidmarks and the squares are too small to use in the middle." She flourished her needle and thread and started joining squares together..............

~ Swampetta (SWAMPETTA@aol.com) ~
May 2004



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