Dolls for Grandchildren

AJ Wood
7 min readDec 29, 2022

One of the most precious gifts I’ve ever received

From author’s files

Disclaimer: My current day job is in the kitchen of a rest home. HIPPA laws (protecting a patient’s right to privacy) prevail there, so the residents described in this story have been fictionalized.

However, I really did make a couple of dolls for a beloved resident, and I’ve described my reaction to the experience as I felt it.

As I sorted through the menu cards this morning, I recognized the name of the man I had met in the hallway yesterday — Homer Lee. I happened to be pushing a cartload of dirty plates toward the dish room when he was settling into Thelma’s old room, and I paused to nod a hello. I was surprised when the man’s entire face lit up at the sight of me, and he reached out to greet me as he might a favorite grandchild at the annual family reunion. He asked my name and how long I had worked there. Then, eyes carefully scanning his new living quarters, he explained with surprising clarity, “This darn body just doesn’t work as well as it used to.” Smiling, I assured him that mine didn’t either, and we were glad to have him here with us.

As I went on my way, I felt warmed somehow. This was a very nice man, with a loving personality that I wish my own father had possessed. I looked forward to making his acquaintance. And I must confess it was refreshing to see that he had been admitted for physical reasons. That meant he still had the cognitive ability to engage in real conversation.

Now today, I noted on the menu card that Homer would be seated next to George. That was a good idea, I thought. Having a seatmate might keep George on task, so he would actually finish his meal.

When Homer was wheeled into the dining room, George was already there. They greeted each other like long-lost brothers, and when I served their breakfast, Homer exclaimed, “AJ, you know my cousin, don’t you?”

“Why, yes I do,” I replied with a wink. “He’s the guy who won’t finish his breakfast unless we nag him to death. Now eat. Both of you.”

With an endearing twinkle in his eye Homer picked up his fork, nodded for George to do the same, and grinned. “Yes, ma’am!”

This man was very quickly becoming one of my favorites.

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AJ Wood

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