The Final Countdown

Well, it’s official: today began my final week at work. Next Monday, after a weekend of pity parties, I’ll be joining a new team and meeting ~100 new residents. Bittersweet is an understatement. While my first two years as an Executive Director have been challenging, if given the chance, I wouldn’t change a thing. Reflecting on my experience, I decided to share my top five favorite memories from the place that will forever be close to my heart:

  1. Outings: After months of searching for a part-time driver (and getting crucified in Resident Council), I decided to take matters into my own hands and learn to operate our lift bus. What was meant to be a temporary solution turned into one of our most popular activities: “Outing with Christina.” Words cannot express the appreciation I have for those who do this full-time; loading 15 residents on and off the van (in 4” heels, no less) and keeping track of everyone while we’re out is physically and emotionally exhausting, but it’s also so fun.

Lessons Learned: Wheelchairs are surprisingly maneuverable and buffets are never a good idea.

 

 

  1. Travel Program: One of the biggest reasons I take frequent trips is for my virtual chair travel program. I put together a video after every vacation and host an activity for my residents, those at our nursing home, and at local senior centers. I even take requests – if there’s somewhere a nonna always wanted to visit but now isn’t able to, I try to go on her behalf. They fuel my wanderlust and are always, without question, my greatest supporters.

Lessons Learned: Time flies and regret is heavy – do as much as you possibly can when you’re young and able.

 

 

  1. Baby G: My friend and former roommate had the most beautiful, affectionate baby boy earlier this year. We had the pleasure of hosting him and his mamma a few times this summer, and the response was overwhelming (especially on our memory unit). What surprised me most was how elated our male residents were to meet and spend time with him; admittedly, I expected the nonnas to go crazy but could’ve never imagined the way he’d make the nonnos melt.

Lesson Learned: My God, babies bring so much joy to the elderly.

 

 

  1. Rosie: If there’s one being my residents love more than Baby G, it’s our house dog Rosie. I got her as a tiny pup and played the whole foster/trial game for all of five minutes: the second they held her, I knew there was no way she’d be going back to the shelter. I finalized her adoption that afternoon. Rosie has been nothing short of a gift to not only my residents, but the staff, as well, especially given the circumstances.

Lesson Learned: Dogs really are a man’s best friend (and the perfect diversion during an ongoing crisis).

 

 

  1. Sharing Milestones: I take pride in the fact that I don’t feel I operate like a “normal” ED, and my staff doesn’t conform to the norm, either. We’ve functioned very much like a family and share so much with our residents. We do, after all, work in their home – the one that’s likely their last stop. It is an honor to strive to make the end of their lives as comfortable, happy, and loving as possible. I’ll never forget witnessing one of our favorite nonnas read the pregnancy test of my colleague and friend. Moments like these make you forget every single grievance, every late-night call, every discipline, every emergency, every heartache… every time you felt like you weren’t doing enough. I’m so thankful for the most insightful two years – for the worst experiences I hope to forget and the best I’ll always remember.

Lesson Learned: As the saying goes, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

4 thoughts on “The Final Countdown

  1. This was awesome and truly reflects where your heart is. Thank you for all you do and my very best wishes for continued happiness and success. You really know how to make the world a lot better place to live in–especially for the elderly.

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  2. Christina, every place you grace, you leave in a much better way, and positioned for GREATNESS. I am only too happy for the group of individuals-employees, residents, and the families of both-who will have the pleasure of experiencing your very special brand of leadership. Good luck and always remember I’m a call-text-email away if any of your people need anything from my people 🙂 good luck and congrats!!!
    Bill McCarthy

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  3. Chrissy

    I spent 3 hours writing of the love..hope..compassion you gave us..and your staff às well
    I spoke of all your help with senior citizens…too much right now to list.
    I am too tired
    I spent so much time trying to tell you how much I respect
    you and what.you feel for others
    Most of all what you do for us older people
    You work with the Alzheimer, the hopeless and the lonely .th
    ose needing a hug
    The list goes on and on

    THE original;MESSAGE DISAPPEARED I WAS SO UPSET I DECIDED TO WRITE A SHORTER ONE
    Right!!?
    I DON’T want to say goodbye but the time has.come
    YOU’RE STARTING A NEW CHAPTER OF YOUR LIFE I CAN ONLY WISH YOU ALL THE BEST
    Well come NOVEMBER IT may ¹be 2 chapters

    I hope I wasn’t that bad of a resident.. but was pretty good at giving advice and being a friend
    I’m sorry we’ll never get to have dinner with Lesley or I finally hear about what happened at the wedding with your mother.. you were so
    nervous.. glad you took my advice about inviting Stubbs
    I.hope you will remember me
    and write me once in a while
    Now i have saved some money
    For outings with Christina
    Could we do it on a Monday
    say come December?
    I’ll end with wishes for you that you wish for all you meet
    Health…. Wealth… ( to have all.they need..and a little
    more.)
    Happiness.

    With all my heart..
    Soul
    Love
    …Iris

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