The past few years I have been volunteering in the beauty salon of a nursing home. I give manicures, help with the residents' hair and wheel people to and from their rooms. On really slow days I am able to brush ladies' hair for as long as they like, or until they fall asleep, whichever comes first.
I decided to volunteer when my mom's friend told me that she could use some help at the salon; this was her full-time job. I asked if she would like me to help and she said sure. When I first went, I was a little scared. First of all, I didn't know my way around the nursing home, so when I was asked to help some ladies in their wheelchairs down to the salon, I got lost and had to ask for directions after every turn. Scary! I do also have to admit that some of the people there scared me too. I wasn't used to this type of environment, and so I felt like everyone was watching my every move, which in fact they were. Not because they didn't like me, but because I made them feel better, because they liked seeing a young face there.
After a few weeks I was learning my way around, and started getting to know a few of the ladies. There are funny stories I can tell, like the lady who has a split personality and gets into arguments with herself on a pretend phone. There were these two ladies who didn't get along and one rolled over the other's foot while in their wheelchairs, and started throwing punches. This may sound weird, but it was almost cute because they were so tiny and fragile.
Even though you've heard some of my good stories, the nursing home is not always a happy place. I've gotten really close to some of the people, but then they go and die on me. It's sad when you go to pick up the person's roommate and just want to cry knowing who used to live there. Also when you walk down the halls, you hear a few people crying out to you. They ask you to come help them get better, or to stop their pain.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is that volunteering in a nursing home can be fun at times, but heartbreaking at other times. fl
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.