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Chapter Four
Mom's Keeper

"I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."
~ Acts 20:35 ~

A warm Friday morning sun shone through the large pane window of Room 2 of the Mullen-Overholt Nursing Home.

"Time to wake up, girl!" announced a loud voice. Mrs. Ruth Clark blinked open her eyes. Leticia Ross, a young black woman, was standing above her, impatient to get the routines of the morning over with as soon as possible. She hastily put on a pair of white latex gloves and rolled Ruth onto her side. After the dirty adult diaper was disposed of, Leticia cleaned the patient. She grabbed for something, and upon finding that there were none left, shouted, "More diapers in Room 2!" Carla Hernandez walked into the room, shaking her head. Both women were certified nursing assistants, but Carla had many years of experience compared to Leticia.

"I thought you counted them this time," she remarked, handing Leticia a diaper.

"Madeline was stubborn this morning," complained Leticia.

"You can draw more flies with honey," advised Carla.

"The way this place smells, you don't need no honey," mocked the young woman.

"It wouldn't smell so bad if you did your job quicker," retorted Carla, disappearing from the door. Leticia jerked on Ruth's sweater, not realizing that she was hurting the sixty-nine year old woman.

"Thinks she knows everything," muttered Leticia. Ruth patiently waited as her white hair was combed, her glasses cleaned, her dentures washed and put into place. She was hungry. The other four women who occupied Room 2 had already been wheeled into the dining room for breakfast. Since Ruth was bedridden, she had to eat all her meals in bed. She fixed her eyes on the door, waiting for a certain loved one to appear. Leticia set her breakfast tray on Ruth's bed table. Without a word, the young woman left, leaving Mrs. Ruth Clark alone with her breakfast. Ruth sighed. Leticia Ross was twenty-six years old, and the single mother of two small boys, Theodore and Ernest. Ruth tried to remember this when Leticia's impatient attitude was at it's worst.

"For this cause I, since the day I heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding," prayed Ruth, bowing her head. When she opened her eyes, a middle aged man was smiling over her.

"Starting breakfast without me, Mom?" he asked, picking up a chair near the window and placing it beside her bed.

"Good morning, Adam," greeted Ruth, as she kissed her son's cheek when he bent over to give his Mom a hug.

"How did you sleep?" asked Adam, picking up the spoon on the table and filling it with food. "Open," he said, guiding it to her mouth.

"I've had better nights," she confessed, "but I'm not complaining." Ruth opened her mouth and swallowed the spoonful of oatmeal. An involuntary twinge of nausea crossed her face. After seeing his mother's reaction, Adam tasted the oatmeal. He quickly spit it back into the bowl.

Unbeknownst to Adam and his mother, Nancy Cortez, the morning cook, had been up the whole night with Teresa, her five year old daughter. The little girl, who was always coming down with one thing or another, had given her mother a sleepless night by means of a high fever. For this reason, Nancy had mistakenly over-salted the oatmeal, making it bitter and inedible. In fact, salt was not supposed to be served at all, for most of the residents at Mullen-Overholt were on low sodium diets. By the time she had realized the mistake, it was too late.

continued on next page...
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