About 10 years ago, an article appeared in The Gainesville Sun focusing on Steve Blay and his work with Friends Across the Ages. A few days later, a lady named Ruth Hazen called. She was a member of another Gainesville area nursing home volunteer group called the Nursing Home Volunteer Auxiliary, and she was wondering if there was some way we could combine our efforts...
There is a resident named Marie that yells every obscenity in the book at me every time she sees me. She even knows my name. Whenever she sees me she starts out, “Steve, get your %^&$#@ @#% and furthermore #$%^#%^ $%^ $% #&$# % ^&$# %^&$@” and every other word cannot be repeated here due to standards of decency. I have no idea what I did to her to deserve that.
Gainesville lost a real treasure last week, a 94 year old man by the name of James Gainey. Mr. Gainey lived in east Gainesville for many many years, in a house across from Lincoln Middle School. He told me he built that house with his bare hands, right down to laying the concrete blocks one on top of the other.
Did I ever tell you about the time I saved Parklands Nursing Center $500,000? The date was May 2nd, 2004, and Parklands was actually called the “Alachua Nursing Center” back then. I went to ANC with a box of Ritz Crackers that day, for a resident named Elijah Brown. He hadn’t been doing very well. I think he was 90 years old – he was slowing down and not eating well, and I wanted to fatten him up a bit.
I Hate Epics. You know, those movies that seem to go on forever...Apocalypse Now, Gladiator, Gone With the Wind. Wake me up when it’s over. Funny thing is, that's what I've been telling people for years. Then when I thought about it, two of my favorite movies are epics.
We recently lost a resident at Parklands named Ada Thurston, and I was thinking about her today. Ada was shameless – if she loved you, she was going to let the world know. Every time I would see her, the first thing she would shout was, “I LOVVVVVVVE YOU!” And she wouldn’t stop there. She would take my hand and kiss it, and say “I missed you so much!”
The phone rang last night and the callerID said “James King”. I hadn’t the slightest idea who that was. But when Allison answered and the voice said, “This is Jimmy from Claxton”, I think we both knew immediately the reason for the call. My friend Hugh had died, a couple months short of his 94th birthday. I met him the very first day I went to the nursing home, over 12 years ago now. He was the sole remaining resident that I had known from the very beginning.
I used to work with a guy named Joe Moseley at Barr Systems here in Gainesville. Joe was the most well-liked person at Barr. I think it was because he always made everybody feel good about themselves, and made them feel important too. One of the many secrets in his bag of tricks was this: he called everybody by a nickname.