This is the seventh edition of Wednesdays with Dorrie. To read more of this column make sure to bookmark this link: Wednesdays with Dorrie.
Weird. That is the only adjective I can come up with to describe how I feel about Dorrie Prouty no longer being in my life. It may not be the most eloquent description, but it is exactly how I feel right now. It is almost hard to believe how much this amazing woman has changed my life in six months and now its over. Here is how it all came to an end.
The End is Here
I entered the retirement community like any other day last Friday and I went to the second floor. As I approached Dorrie’s apartment/room I noticed the door was close. I asked the nurse if I could go in and she said it was fine. Upon entering Dorrie’s room I quickly noticed a woman I had never seen before. She introduced herself as Dorrie’s daughter. The nurse introduced me as “Jesse, Dorrie’s volunteer.” The moment Dorrie’s daughter looked me in the eyes I knew. I absolutely knew what it meant. I look down and Dorrie and asked her how she was. Her response, “Oh, not so well.” It was a very awkward moment as Dorrie did not even recognize me and I am certain her daughter was thinking, who is this guy? After a brief conversation about Dorrie’s granddaughter going to Wake Forest I explained that I was not feeling well and I would see Dorrie on Monday.
As I exited the retirement community last Friday I honestly thought it was the last time I would ever see Dorrie alive. I was almost expecting the phone call all weekend but it did not happen. On Monday, April 1st, 2013, exactly six afterI met Dorrie for the first time I entered the facility to spend time with Dorrie. As I got on the elevator I just had that feeling that things were not right. I think we have all had that feeling at one time in our lives. As I walked over to Dorrie’s apartment my eyes had to endure one of the worst sights I had ever seen.
I looked in Dorrie’s room and everything had been removed except her bed and a large fan. I did not want to go in without talking to the nurse. I found Delores and asked her if I could go in. She said, “I am not sure but Jesse.” She simply gave the thumbs down motion. I tried to remain as strong as possible and I said, “I know.” We sat for a few minutes and talked. She explained the Dorrie’s daughter left on Friday and she was not going to return until Dorrie passed. Dorrie’s son from Virginia had come down over the weekend and cleaned out the room.
To change the subject we just talked about life. I know she was doing her best to keep my mind off the inevitable. After talking for about 20 minutes Delores had to help some other residents. She said I could go in and see her but she likely would not recognize me. At 11:20 am on April 1st, 2013 I entered room 4211 for the final time. I looked down at Dorrie who was struggling in every sense of the word. These were her last precious seconds of the 88 years of her life. I spoke a little louder than usual and I said, “Hello Dorrie.” For a brief moment that wandering, beautiful blue eyes looked up at me. I know, deep down, that she recognized me for those brief moments. I looked deep into those eyes and I said, “Dorrie, I love you.” I saw her close her eyes for the final time and I kiss her forehead.
I have not received the final phone call telling me she has passed but everyone has agreed there is no reason for me to return to volunteer with her. I have grown so accustomed to getting up every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning and volunteering with Dorrie from 10:00 to noon. I have requested another resident to work with during the same time each week and the volunteer coordinator has said she will find something that works out. One thing is for certain. There will never be another Dorrie Prouty. When I walk by room 4211 there will be only one way to describe it. Weird.
Dorrie Prouty proved so many things to me but I think the most important thing I have realized with this volunteer experience is that time brings out the best (and worst) in people. Coming from a guy that loves to rush everything, I now realize that it takes patience to get what you want in life. I seriously doubt I will every start a serious romantic relationship in my life without know that particular female for, you got it, six months. The amount of time I got to spend with Dorrie Prouty.…