I don’t remember Gwen’s last name. I don’t have a picture of her. I don’t know how old she was — younger than me but probably not by much. I couldn’t even find her obit when I googled “obituaries – st. louis – gwen.”
I do know that she died this week. Cancer, I’m told. Cancer is really getting on my nerves.
Gwen was one of the more colorful clients — I mean “people we support” — back when I worked at the St. Louis Arc. And yes, “colorful” could also be interpreted as “a handful.”
“Gwen, sit in your chair properly. You’re going to fall over and break your head.”
If the radio suddenly went up in volume by several decibels, odds are good Gwen was standing nearby, smiling. She wasn’t the only person who liked to give the radio a boost, but she was always a prime suspect.
“Gwen, are you supposed to be sitting on that ball? You’re not being safe.”
Gwen was one of the reasons we had Safety Class on a regular basis. Not that it did much good.
“Gwen, stop jumping around like that, you’re going to fall and break your head.”
Gwen had amazing balance, because there was only one time that she actually did fall and break her head. They had to take her to the hospital for stitches. You would think that would’ve caused her to change her ways. It didn’t.
If there was ever a basket of crayons, or a bucket of cards, just sitting there unattended, it would often get dumped over, the contents scattering all over the floor. It was usually Gwen.
Gwen loved to yell out. Randomly. Sadly, she wasn’t the only person who enjoyed that particular quirk. Some days, usually around lunch time, it could be a yelling festival. I don’t miss that part of the old job.
Gwen didn’t do what she did out of malice. She just wanted attention. Lots and lots of attention. We were instructed not to give her attention for her bad behaviors, but it was hard.
Gwen did have her quiet times. She could spend all morning with her perler beads, sorting out the white ones for reasons known only to her.
Gwen loved Karaoke Friday. One of her favorite songs was “Shake Your Booty.”
Gwen loved zombies. I don’t know why. Gwen loved the zoo. I used to tell Gwen that there were zombies at the zoo. Zoombies. She didn’t think it was funny.
Gwen loved Red Robin. But hey, who doesn’t?
Gwen loved her toy cellphone. I would sometimes call her and we would talk about zombies. And Red Robin.
If there’s a Heaven, I imagine Gwen is there right now, jumping around and sitting in chairs that are about to tip over and cranking up Jesus’ stereo and spilling God’s crayons all over the floor.
She’s just trying to get your attention, Lord. Just ignore her.
And good luck with that.