The passing of a friend
My friend and colleague Shirley Dineen L.P.N. died on Tuesday after a very brief illness. Shirley spent her career serving older adults in long term care communities and yet she did not live long enough to collect her Social Security benefit. We worked together for about 10 years at Windsor Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a skilled care facility that I operated and worked at during the 1990's. Working alongside Shirley was an honor and I'd like to share a few of my thoughts and recollections about those days.
I think I remember Shirley's first week on the job, or more likely, I am simply remembering the many times she worked on the west wing during the 3-11 shift. My grandfather lived on that wing and it is where he spent the last few years of his life. Shirley could always calm my zayde, who was cognitively impaired and sometimes would become agitated for reasons that were not apparent to even those closest to him. Shirley was attentive to all the residents, always prepared to validate their feelings and beliefs and redirect those who were despondent or disorientated with gentleness and compassion. Always with compassion.
Shirley was a typical and yet extraordinary nurse. Like many in the LTSS space, she loved working with older adults and she worked hard for the paycheck she needed to support her family. Although her career at Windsor began with "working the floor" she soon joined the administrative nursing team, conducting training for new staff as well as for quality assurance purposes. In those days, with the implementation of new federal regulations happening with great frequency, Shirley would always be ready to meet the challenge with a determined attitude to succeed.
Shirley and I would sometimes joke about what room we would want to live in at Windsor Manor and the challenging demands we make to the staff, because that would be our way of shouting to the world, “I matter!" If, one day, I find myself living as a resident in a long term care facility, you can bet that with a twinkle in my eye, I will insist that my meals be served from the right and the dirty dishes removed from my left and if asked why, I’ll say simply, “because my friend Shirley would be disappointed if I didn’t.”
May Shirley’s name be for a blessing.