(Imagine I am sharing this story with you as we talk about persistence and caring to do the little things…)
At 93 she was quick-witted, gentle, sweet and persistent. Claudia had lived at the retirement community since 2005. It was a Friday in late September and the mid-day menu was, once again, Catch-of-the-Day. I arrived at her table of five, armed with my regular and de-caf coffee pots.
Right away I learned that Catch-of-the-Day was Claudia’s cue: (Looking up with a big smile)
“Is today the Day?”
Being a brand new member of the management team, I was curious about the question.
“The day for what” I inquired.
“Crab Legs”, she grinned hopefully.
“Let me check with the Chef.” I finished my coffee pour and headed straight for the kitchen.
Chef gave me an unexpected scolding: “Are you nuts? That will drive up my food cost. No way can we serve Crab Legs!!”
Fridays came and went. And still no Crab Legs for Claudia. In her 7+ years (over 350 Fridays) as a resident, she had never had her beloved Crab Legs. I admired her persistence and thought about how her dream could become a reality. There had to be a way to pull this off.
Over the next couple of months, Chef began having performance issues. Could this be a crack in the case?
(Pause – big grin)
The day after Christmas, we had a new Chef. He assured me he could serve Claudia her favorite dish—she would have to be patient a little longer. It might take three to four months to massage the budget, yet he smiled and assured me he COULD and WOULD do it!
Several more Fridays went by, and Claudia was hopeful as clock work. In early March he decided Good Friday would be—THE DAY. I looked forward to announcing the menu THAT DAY, and while telling Claudia’s story; Chef would do the honor of serving the delicacy. It would be a special celebration!
In the meantime, she let me know she loved peanut-butter, as did her table-mates; and I made sure to surreptitiously place individual packaged servings at their place settings several times each week.
(Pause – Lower voice)
A week before her day, Claudia became too ill to make it to dinner. We called the medics and they took her to the hospital. On Saturday, her daughter Laura shared, “Mom is stable, but they are very cautious.”
I was itching to tell her of the special menu, yet held off – hoping Claudia would recover.
Sunday brought unhappy news. She was slipping in and out of a coma. Now I was compelled to share my plan with Laura and her husband, Jay.
(Pause to catch my thoughts)
Tuesday morning, Laura stopped by the office once again. She had a peaceful smile and moist eyes. “Last night Mom opened her eyes and smiled when I told her what you had planned with the Crab Legs. She said, “Tell Bob, thank you so much for doing that for me.” Then, she smiled and said, “Laura, I love you. Thank you for all you have done for me.”
Laura replied, “I love you mom.”
Claudia closed her eyes…….
And she was gone.
On Thursday, Laura mentioned she would join Mom’s girlfriends for Friday dinner. I announced the menu, told the story, and Chef brought out her beloved Crab Legs, serving Laura and her Mom’s girlfriends.
I could sense her smiling down on me.
“Here’s to you Claudia. Today’s your Day!!”
Make each one precious.