A Pearl-Colored, Silk Button

Sydni Heron - Ecuador

November 18, 2012

My first time stepping into a nursing home was a simple experience. I was not there to visit anyone or to share my talents with the residents or anything of the sort. I was simply waiting for a friend. I sat down on a couch alone in the midst of older people and people in colorful scrubs passsing by periodically.

An elderly woman with pale skin that foled elegantly over her thin face sat directly across from me. Her light blue eyes noticed me taking a seat, but did not question or rest upon me any further.

Her soft peach pants and ivory silk shirt did not match the worn-down, ugly paisley chair she sat on. She sat erect, without moving for several minutes, until the noticement of the top button — a small pearl — on her shirt becoming undone stirred her out of her thoughts and into action.

Her small arms shook as she raised them to fix the button. The skin on her arm was obviously frail — it was broken and bruised in many places. Her swollen fingers tried calmly, at first, to perform the simple task of grasping the small button and pulling it into the buttonhole. After many moments of relentless work, her beutifully soft manner became broken — her eyebrows narrowed slighty, her nose furled and her thin lips formed an unhappy frown. The light, determined eyes watched her hands work.

She desperately attemped to fasten the pearl button into place for several agonizing minutes.

And then she stopped trying. She calmly and smoothly — elegantly — placed her hands on top of her legs, as they had been placed ealier. She returned to her prior disposition, as if nothing had happened.

Her body language suggested calmness and acceptance, but her frustration and brokenness and the slightest trace of a tear showed through her blue eyes.

I remember her feeling of powerlessness overwhelming me. I did not know what to do for her because I did not know how to fix it because I could not fix it.

I see that same powerlessness in the eyes of many people in Ecuador. I see it in the eyes of the women and men who ask for money on the buses. I see it in the eyes of very young women who come to the because they think they may be pregnant. I see it in the eyes of a darting glance from the raggedy looking homeless man who sits in the streets some days.

I have seen more powerlessness here than I have seen in my entire life, and it is overwhelming.

I wish I could end this blog with a good idea — or even an idea — to fix the problems I am seeing, but I cannot write such a statement because I do not know how to fix it because I cannot fix it.

Sydni Heron