At Maison Nazareth, the nursing home where I’ve recently started volunteering, the dinner tables are arranged in a peculiar and very sensible way.
At the first table sit the five most able-bodied of the dozen currently living in this particular wing of the facility. They can feed themselves, a great relief to the nurses at mealtime.
The second table has only two settings: one for a woman I don’t yet know so well who is wheelchair bound, the other for Sister S, one of two nuns that live there. This table is, from what I can gather, for the naughtiest of the bunch. While both are fully capable of feeding themselves, they can be a bit higher maintenance.
It seems – and mind, I’m not always right about this stuff because I can’t always understand the French – that the woman in the wheelchair likes, for example, to drink her soup out of her water cup. There are nurses who understand this, and there are those who don’t. The ones who neglect to put her soup in her cup are rewarded with her trademark surprise: she uses her water cup to scoop soup out of the bowl and onto the table. She’s unable to utter a word, and does this so silently that it’s often not until she’s made quite a mess that anyone notices. That is, of course, if Sister S is playing along. Normally Sister S can’t help but tattle-tail at the top of her lungs, though.