Kamala and the Saint Joseph's Patio
After her years of seclusion, while at St. Joseph's Convalescent Hospital in Castro Valley Kamala loved to have visitors. When we first found out about her residence at St. Joseph's, she had not had visitors for quite some time. Carol (Catalina) had some experience with nursing homes from her youth, and she insisted that we maintain a steady presence at St. Joseph's because when elderly have no visitors, their care is sometimes neglected.
Carol also suggested that we get Kamala several little cotton housecoats, the kind with the zipper front or button front, several pairs of slippers, and some sweaters, and that everything be marked with indelible ink to identify Kamala's items in the various communal closets the staff would often use. Because Kamala dearly loved being outdoors on the patio, we also purchased as many lap blankets as possible and marked them all accordingly.
Whenever the weather permitted, we would take Kamala to the patio for her lunchtime. It seems in retrospect that the weather was most often good when we were there, because I remember very rare occasions when we were not able to go to the patio.
Kamala was a strict vegetarian, and it seemed St. Joseph's was not accustomed to feeding vegetarian patients, because Kamala's lunches always seemed to be the same thing, a glass of milk, a glass of juice, and a cheese sandwich, which Kamala found quite difficult to chew. Knowing this, we tried to always bring her favorite fruit, a sweet and soft banana, which would make her eyes light with joy every time.
She loved to sit on that patio and converse with the cute little rabbit who live in a cage out there for several months. She loved to leaf through copies of her books, especially The Flawless Mirror. We often passed the hours reading to her from the books, which Kamala knew by heart. Even in her challenged state, her memory would come alive during our readings, and if we missed a single word, she would look aghast, and we would have to go back and read that section again more carefully. Sometimes she would actually snatch the book and point to the very word or sentence we had skipped.
Kamala never missed a beat when it came to her stories about Master!!