Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Sondra Barker is the new assistant activities director here.She believes in doing "whatever God calls her to do."

Besides raising her own threes children, Sondra raised her nephew from the age of six until he was twenty. She is now raising her fourteen-year-old granddaughter as well as her ten-year-old grandson. To ensures that her grandson would not remain a ward of the state, Sondra, and her husband took foster parenting classes.
They learned CPR and their home was inspected to make sure it was safe. Even their pets were scrutinized.  Sondra and husband were required to make sure that their pet's vaccinations were up to date. About a year after they had become his foster parents, they petitioned the court to become his legal guardians.The judge praised Sondra for taking such good care of her grandson. They were granted full custody. Because of his grandmother's love and support, her grandson will never have to worry that he will become a ward of the state again.

Sondra credits two sisters, Effie and Elsie, for inspiring her interest and compassion for the elderly. They were her babysitters when she was eight or nine years old. Effie and Elsie taught Sondra to love Lawrence Welk. I have a feeling that her memories of Lawerence Welk bring back fond memories of Effie and Elsie too.

Sondra tells the elderly, "If you have a story to tell, tell it to a young person."She tells young people, "Listen to an older person. Listen to their stories. You can learn a lot."

Sondra loves to sit and offer comfort to people when they are passing away. She will hold their hand or sing to them if they are afraid. Sondra believes there are two times when we are the closest to heaven. When we are born and when we are dying. Both times Jesus and the angels are in the room with us.  Once, When she was doing nails at a facility, a lady asked to come to her room and do her nails. By the time Sondra got there the lady had died. Sondra still did the lady's nails because that was her last request. She received an award for honoring the women's request.

When Sondra was a nurse's aide, in the sixties, she did what she was told to do. She didn't complain. She had compassion for the people that she cared for.

Sondra has worked at a number of facilities in the activities department. When she was a director she was sent to school. She has her chauffer's license. She is also a deputy. Sondra can register people to vote.

Before taking the position of assistant activities director here, Sondra had been a lunch lady at a school near her home. She liked that job very much. She applied for the position of activities director here She was offered the assistant director position. When she walked into this facility she knew that it was where God wanted her to be.

I wish there were more people like Sondra working at this facility. I wish there more people like Sondra in the world. She the most selfless and compassionate person I have ever met. She makes resident's lives doing what God calls he to do.

Thursday, June 22, 2017


The past few weeks have been extremely difficult. Aides arriving late or not showing up at all.Aides turning off my call light without helping me and aides leaving me without my feet strapped in on my footrests, putting me at risk of sliding out of my chair. This happened most recently, last night. My aide left after discovering the sling for the lift had disappeared.   She'd  removed my footrests before she realized the sling for the lift was gone.

I felt myself begin to slide. I did not want to slide out of my chair. I began to yell for help. The nurse finally came. She asked me why I was screaming. I told her I was falling. The nurse and my aide finally got me back in my chair. I was relieved. I was very embarrassed that I  had to yell for help. It was late. I was disturbing my fellow residents.I didn't know what else to do. I apologized to some of the residents this morning.

I used to yell for help all the time. Then my aides and I developed a routine. I trusted the aides who took care of me. I had the same people caring for me the majority of the time. Now, I never know who will be caring for me or if they will be on time. If I wake up in the morning and need to go the bathroom and no one answers my light for over half an hour, I have no choice, except to call for help. I do not want to wet the bed.

I am trying very hard to change. The lack of staff is making it difficult. There are times when I have to behave the way I did when I got here. I do not want to be that person anymore.

I am going to begin to work with Paraquad with the goal of transitioning out of this facility.  I hope to find a safe living situation in the community. It might not work.I have to explore my options. I will have to prove to the state that I am deserving of another chance. I will have to prove that I  have respect for those who care for me. I will have to demonstrate that I have the skills to communicate my needs effectively. In this facility, I am one of almost thirty people. Sometimes I have to do things I am not proud of to make sure my needs are taken care of.

I do not want to have the reputation of being someone who yells. The person I want to be is confident and respectful. Yelling is degrading. Showing respect is empowering.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Summer is here. For almost twelve years my mom and I attended the Days of Our Lives and General Hospital fan weekends in California. We also traveled to England, Canada, Alaska, Maine and probably a few other places that I have forgotten, with Flying Wheels a travel agency that specialized in organizing trips for people with disabilities. 

Summer afternoons at home were spent swimming in our pool, going out to lunch, going to the movies or to the mall. I miss those summer days more than I can tell you

Now, I am in a facility. A place where if the temperature gets close to ninety degrees, we are forbidden to go outside unless we are accompanied by someone on staff here or a family member. I have found a way to get around that rule. I go to the patio on the first floor. That door is always open. It is secluded and quiet. I sit outside in the morning or after dinner. Never in the heat of the day.

I will never have another summer like the ones I had when I lived at home. However, I can still enjoy myself. I have decided, at least for the summer, not to worry about whether I am making money or not.  I am going to blog, write stories and do some journaling. I will still write a monthly column for The West End Word as well as a weekly piece for The Mac Wire, but I am going to write for fun too.

Living here is stressful. This summer I am going to try to decrease my stress and relax Writing, like, reading, can take me anywhere because there are no limits to my imagination.