Please-Don't Forget Me!
the nurse's station. A woman sobs, "I have to
call my daughter. Where do we go? It hurts
me in my heart."
The gentle caretaker of these sad souls is
Mindy Soverinsky, supervisor of nursing. The
second-floor residents suffer with dementia
or Alzheimer's — progressive, degenerative
diseases that attack their minds, she ex-
plains. Some have lucid moments; many need
constant, one-on-one attention.
2 p.m. Libbie Laurens feeds the fish in a
large tank at the back of the lobby on the first
floor as residents and their family and friends
sit down to visit.
Bertha Ernstein comes about three times
a week to visit her husband, Harry, a resident
there. "He's the only husband I've got."
Several times in years past she was told a
room at Borman Hall was available for Harry,
but she never wanted to put him there. Final-
ly, she could no longer care for him herself;
he would fall, and she wouldn't be able to pick
Bertha, who was born in Peoria, Ill., came
to Detroit when her parents, Russian im-
migrants, moved here to join a family
business. Today; her own children often come
visit their father at the Home for Aged. Their
daughter was there in the morning, and their
son, Earle, arrives not long after his mother.
Earlier in the day Harry needed to sign
some contracts. "And he wrote his name
beautifully," his wife says. "I was so proud of
As a daughter walks beside her blind
father, Ruth Finke settles down for her
regular visit with her mother, Rose Wispe, a
resident at Borman Hall for the past year.
It was a painfully difficult decision for
Finke to bring her mother to the home. For
30 years Wispe lived with the Finkes.
"It was nice having my mom with me," says
Finke, who visits her mother five times a
week. Wispe, who as a young woman cared
for newborn babies, often watched the Finke
children and prepared delicious baked goods
for the family.
In 1987, Wispe suffered a stroke. Finke still
resisted placing her mother at Borman Hall,
but she worried about Wispe every time she
left the house. Finally, she decided she could
no longer take care of her mother by herself.
"I feel guilty and everybody feels guilty,"
about having a parent at a home, Finke says.
3:40 p.m. Rabbi Abram Gardin, with the
assistance of Elbert Diamond, who wears a
yellow kippah, leads afternoon services. The
15 residents, their wheelchairs huddled
together near the front of the room, include
in their prayers a plea to God for good health.
5:25 p.m. Sarah stands looking outside the
window of her room. She likes the way the
branches look, like trees bending their arms
in a ballet. She would like to sit at the little
table out there, where some of the workers
meet for lunch on warm days. "But nobody
ever asked me."
Sarah has family who regularly come to
visit her. But her memory is so poor she can't
remember they were there five minutes after
they've left. Numerous framed photos, many
Residents meet for a game
"People here don't die
because of sickness. They
die because of loneliness."
— Harry Weinsaft
of which show a young girl with auburn curls,
hang on her walls. It's clear this must be a
granddaughter, but Sarah shows no signs of
"She's a cute little thing, but I don't know
who she is," Sarah says.
Sarah covers her desk with arts and crafts
she has made. There's a knitted brown dog
standing on its back feet that fits nicely over
an old pill container, and a jar covered with
clear beads strung together. They're the
kinds of things you might see at a flea
market, the kinds of things nobody will buy.
Say they're beautiful and Sarah responds,
"I was glad to have something to do."
Sarah keeps a lot of other homemade crafts
in her room, too. Other residents gave them
to her, and she keeps them even when she
doesn't like them. She wouldn't want
somebody to come in and see she had thrown
his gift away, would she?
"Thanks for coming to my room," she says.
6 p.m. A dinner of fish, fries, soup and fruit
fill the dining hall, along with rows and rows
of wheelchairs that look at first glance like
bicycles lined up outside a school.
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS