Last Wish: Pretty Nails

Last week I was asked by a young woman if I would come to her Grandmother’s nursing home and give her a last present: a manicure.

I want to warn you: grab your box of tissues now..


Of course I said yes! I was so touched that I would be able to do such a nice gift. The thought of merely painting her nails made me tear up with memories of doing my grandmas nails in her nursing home.

11 years ago my Grandma and I in her nursing home room
11 years ago my Grandma and I in her nursing home room

We made a plan and I was going to go there to give her grandma a manicure. I asked if she had any favorite colours but she said anything would be fine. I had the plan to bring just a nice light peach colour, a pink and a taupe. I didn’t want to overload her with questions and choices when she can’t respond. I was going to really focus on her hand massage, and painting because with frailer skin I wouldn’t want to cut her or anything. Just push back her cuticles gently and file her nails to look nice and even.

Unfortunately her grandma died the day between her granddaughter asking and the Wednesday morning booking.
My heart was so sad for this young lady loosing her grandma. I wanted to let her know how kind, sweet and caring that this surprise she wanted to give her grandmother was. It’s more then that though..
It shows you loved her.
It shows you listened.
It shows you cared until the very end.

Most of us of course love, listen and care: but I also feel many of us don’t fully.
Grandparents can talk a lot and as little grandchildren sometimes we don’t fully pay attention to the little things.

I remember my grandma loved roses, and rose oil. She loved the colours pink, lilac and onyx. She had lots of scarfs in those colours, matching outfits and always pink lipstick. My grandma was great for her offbeat style.

Grandparents when they get to the end might have been hard to see, hard to listen to, hard to help. Sometimes it’s just easier on ourselves to not visit as much, or for as long.

I am guilty of the later, my grandmother was in a nursing home for 7 years with progressive advanced alzheimer’s and dementia. For the last year or two: she didn’t know me, wouldn’t talk to me and sometimes would just glare at me. It broke my heart especially at the last one. It did come down to her not being able to move or talk or really anything(I don’t even think she could really blink or swallow). My visits dwindled from every week, to every month, to only on holidays and her birthday.. from hours long, to maybe a hour to a enduring 20-30 minutes. It didn’t help that for the last 3 years of her life that the nursing home would call us telling us that shes dying, that she has days or hours left… which was horrible and confusing(for everyone) when we’d get there and say our goodbyes then she would be fine. It got to the point where I had to make the decision to ask them to not call me( call my mother but not me) until she had actually passed and it had been like 10 minutes.
I wish that I could have one more hug, even just one more time sitting there in her room watching tv. She died 4 years ago on Dec 29th so this just hit so close to home and my heart & thoughts goes out to the young lady and her family right now.

I often tell my clients that my background is from mortuary sciences. But I don’t think they realize the time and effort I put into my old job for a last gift of a perfect last look. I would love to work on more last gifts, but now with this new request I hope in the future to help a final gift be not at the funeral home but with a loved one at home, bedside may it be, but to even feel a small smile ( even if it just comes from someones aura).

I think we often forget about our seniors and the little things they are missing out on. They don’t usually have their feet done or if so it’s just a fast job. They just maybe get their nails cut so they don’t scratch their skin too hard. But in some retirement villages and homes, they have a small salon to still get some services done. Remember many estheticians have mobile services so they can come to your loved one as well.


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