I don’t know what was said that day in the conference room. I know Laverne was the teacher and the surveyors were the students.

Editors Note: This story was submitted by Debbie Van Straten after reading the recently published article  The Problem with Rules and Regulations…They Can Kill”, Regulations do kill by supporting the plagues of aging defined by the Eden Alternative—loneliness, helplessness and boredom.

The Story

Andy and Peanuts, Amazon Parrots, were in their cage with the door open.  Andy particularly loved people.  He would perch on a nurse’s shoulder while she dispensed medication and talk to anyone who would listen.  His vocabulary was extensive. This particular morning, Andy was climbing around his cage enjoying the morning while readying his flight plan and checking weather conditions.  He was scheduled to depart at 10:37 AM for his daily flight.  At that time the elders who loved him, would be down the long corridor in the dining room enjoying some activity.  Andy plucked the last of his loose feathers as he went through his take-off checklist.  He climbed to the top of the cage and prepared for flight. During take-off he spread his colorful strong wide wings and soared over the heads of sitting elders as he climbed in altitude.  His climbing pattern had him rounding the corner and soaring over the nursing station.  After he banked to the left, his flight pattern was a straight shot to the dining room.  He had a job to do.  His mission was to provide companionship.

Turbulence Ahead

This morning, however, there was turbulence ahead.  As he reached his cruising altitude and flew over the heads of people in the corridor, he flew over the head of a state surveyor.  The surveyor scared the heck out of Andy as she screamed and dove to the floor.  Being the experienced pilot he was, he completed the straight stretch of his course, banked to the right and landed on top of the vending machine where he was greeted with cheers and applause.

The elders loved him.

The state surveyor didn’t.

Getting up off the floor, she was thinking, there must be a citation for such nonsense!  She gathered herself, collected her clipboard and headed straight for state surveyor conference room headquarters. On the nursing floor, eyes rolled and gasps could be heard.  All knew Andy was in serious trouble and would certainly get his wings clipped and be grounded.

The strongest advocates for changing regulations are the residents themselves.

The story quickly spread throughout the building.  Laverne Goeltz, a longtime resident at Lakewood, a member of the Eden Alternative Committee and President of Resident Council, simply loved all of the animals.  Laverne was feisty. She served in the Korean War and quarterbacked on one of the first female football teams.  Laverne was an experienced fighter.  No way, no how was Laverne going to stand for Andy or any of the animals being evicted. Pulling her oxygen tank behind her, Laverne went to first floor and put Andy on her shoulder.  She boarded the elevator and pushed ground floor.  When the doors opened she took an immediate left and headed straight for the conference room. There, three surveyors sat flipping through hundreds of pages of regulations looking for the appropriate one to apply to the incident that had just occurred.  Laverne knocked politely, entered the room and asked to be heard. I don’t know what was said that day in the conference room.  I know Laverne was the teacher and the surveyors were the students.  I know we never received a citation and Andy never got his wings clipped.  On behalf of the elders and on behalf of herself, Laverne was heard because it was her home. Debbie If you like this article (or even if you don’t) it would be a great honor to have you subscribe to our mailing list HERE