There's a new man in the village named Pete. He's a lovely man. On the first day I met him, he had placed a folded piece of paper on his breakfast tray, covered in elderly fancy handwriting. It read, "Thank you to all the staff for your warm welcome and your hard work. I am sure we will have happy years here. From Peter Alfred Morgan." Anyway, he and another new resident needed somewhere to sit, so we placed them at the large table and moved Marjorie onto the smaller one. Marjorie has always sat alone. She has bad days that scare other people.
Every three weeks she goes to hospital to have electric shock therapy. I was aghast when I found out. Surely they don't use this barbaric practice in this day and age? But she needs it. Marjorie runs on a perfect three-week schedule. For the few days before she's due, there are Bad Days. After the treatment, she is this smiling and lovely creature (albeit, the elevator never has reached the top floor).
Marjorie is like sunshine most of the time. She greets me with her face lit up, saying, "Hello, pet!" Mind you, until someone engages her in conversation, she sits alone in the lounge room and stares. The television is usually off. Sometimes when I take her a cup of tea, she asks me to put on the music. Some days she tells me with glee that the Americans are here. Can I hear them? she asks. She looks at the ceiling, hearing a non-existant fleet of fighter jets overhead. She is fond of dunking a biscuit into tea with lots of milk. That's the way I do it, too. You'd be surprised at the amount of times you can discuss butternut cookies and white tea. I could bring up the same exact sentence every night, and she'd happily discuss it again.
Most mealtimes she comes in right on time, sits down, places her napkin upright between the salt and pepper shakers, Eats dinner, Drinks Tea, and Leaves, all executed in fifteen minutes at the most. We make sure her tablets are there before the tea, or else someone has to chase her. She smiles and tells us some imagined incident from today. Some days, her table neighbours (that only she can see) are Hot. That means they're nasty, or bad news, or something - I'm not quite sure how, but it is evident by the look on her face it's a most unsavoury adjective. When she starts this I usually place a glass of water in front of her invisible "neighbour"; Marjorie snatches the drink away from "them" with irritation and drinks it, just so that they can't have it. Some days she'll eat the dessert. Some days it obviously interferes with her Fixed Agenda (see Sit, Eat, Tea, Leave above). One day she loudly and rudely told me I could give the dessert to the dog. Whose dog, I have no idea. She's never mentioned one before.
On Tuesday it was evident it was almost Time. She entered the dining room all flustered, sat down at the table, then removed all the cutlery and arranged it on the other placemat, stood up, and moved to the other chair. I've no idea why she moved, but you don't argue with Marjorie; we're happy if she does her usual Sit, Eat, Tea, Leave. When I went in with her meal there was no sunshine. "My name is MRS SANDERS!" she shouted at me. I supposed I wouldn't be allowed to call her Marjorie that day like I usually do. I just cheerfully put the plate down and said, "Well, Mrs Sanders, here's your lunch!" and the cloud disappeared and the sun came out on her face. She told me with an exasperated smile, "They're keeping me up all night working on the pipes." (They? Pipes? H-okay.) She rolled her eyes and began to eat her food.
Afterwards, the timid and kindhearted Arabella offered her a bowl of caramel pudding cake with custard, and she just yelled at Arabella, "Why don't YOU eat it!!!" This was a new one. Arabella didn't know whether to wet her pants in shock or burst out laughing.
...I know there will be more about Marjorie. She has new stories to tell me daily. The weird ones, I remember.
Arabella did eat the pudding.