Editor's Note: Hundreds of Ann Landers' loyal readers have requested that newspapers continue to publish her columns. These letters originally appeared in 1999.
Dear Friends: What follows was written by Judy Vekasy, a registered nurse and director of activities at a nursing home in Savannah, Tenn. It originally appeared in the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
I have some suggestions for those who need something to be thankful for, or those who need someone to allow them to give of themselves. Nursing homes are full of opportunities.
You say you can't do anything. Can you read? Good. Read to me. My eyes aren't what they used to be.
Can you write? Good. Write a letter or a card for me. My hands are shaky.
Can you sing? Good. Help me with the words, and I'll sing along.
Can you tell me about your job? I was a nurse once myself.
Can you listen? Wonderful. I'm starved for conversation.
Can you bake a sponge cake or zucchini bread or angel biscuits, or make fudge? They aren't on the nursing home menu, but I remember how good they were, and I would like to taste them again.
Do you play checkers or dominos or rummy? Fine, so do I, but there is never anyone who has the time. They are understaffed around here, you know.
Do you play the violin or the flute or the piano? My hearing is poor, but I can hear any kind of music. Even if I fall asleep, you'll know I enjoyed it.
Once we were somebodies, just like you. We were farmers and farmers' wives and teachers, nurses, beauticians, stockbrokers and electricians, bankers and sheriffs, and maybe a few outlaws, too. We're not all senile — just old and needing more help than our families can give us. This home, whatever its name, is "home" to us, and you're an invited guest.
Please come. The welcome mat is always out. I hope you will keep this and read it in January, February, and every other month of the year. We'll still be here, and our needs will still be the same.
To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.