Have you played the game of Six Degrees of Separation where everyone can be related to someone else by six or fewer connections? Well, this past week while visiting my mother in her new extended care facility, it took many fewer than six tries to get a connection. Being in a small town, you would expect some familiarity, but I didn't expect to see so many people that remembered me since I hadn't lived there for over 30 years. Here are some examples of the connections.
--The head nurse was someone I was in band with in high school. Hadn't seen her since then, but hugs were still given all around.
--Two other nurses and the ward clerk worked with my mother when she worked there 20 years ago.
--Next door to my mother was the mother of a friend from high school.
--Every time we were in the dining room, there was another connection from high school. Sometimes it was with me and sometimes with one of my sisters.
--My mother's roommate is the aunt of one of my good friends from high school. Unfortunately, we couldn't coordinate our visits to see each other. However, we had an interesting visit with her sister one day.
A couple tentatively came into the room and said, "You aren't Martha are you." I said no, that was my sister. She said she was Alice and was in school with Martha. We exchanged a couple more pleasantries and then she went on to visit her aunt.
After a few minutes, her husband came up and said that he was Frank, Alice's husband and gave us a big hug and wished us Merry Christmas. Then he said that he wasn't from around there and he was from another town. Well, one thing led to another and that was the town where my parents were born. Turns out that he grew up on a farm near my grandparents, worked 30 years with my uncle, and used to go rabbit hunting with my father. He also knew my mother when she was younger. That whole exchange was very interesting. The connection was supposed to be through his wife, but it turned out that we had more connections to him than anyone around. It was somehow comforting to find someone who knew my father as well as my mother from long ago.
--Another day while talking to another resident, Thelma, we found out that her uncle used to own the house we lived in and she told us a few stories about it. When I got home (my mother's house) later that day, I just happened to come across two utility bills for her uncle from 1946 when he owned the house. I don't ever remember seeing them and no one is quite sure where they came from. The theory is they must have surfaced when some remodeling was done a few years ago. However, it was pretty strange that I should find them in the back of a cabinet just a couple of hours after hearing Thelma's story. We took them to Thelma and she was happy to see this surprise connection to her past.
--Also, a couple of other hospital workers come to see my mother every day on their break. They were present day connections but they had their own set of connections to others just like we did.
While it was very interesting and fun to see all of these people, as an introvert, I found all of this very tiring. But it felt good knowing that there are many eyes keeping watch over my mother.
Unfortunately, out of respect for other's privacy, I can't share any of the pictures I took during my visit.