Bud Lee, a pillar of Tampa Bay’s arts community, had
a stroke August 8,2003. He resides at the Plant City Convalescent
Home. His friends want you to visit him.
Here are some things you should know about visiting Bud.
He’ll want you to stand on his right side.
This helps keep his inner Republicans at bay.
He’ll probably ask you to wheel him around. This is
your opportunity to be his designated driver, for a change.
Bud still likes to hear stories about his friends,
from his friends’ perspective.
The nurses have requested that we do not feed Bud.
They’re really watching his cholesterol and diabetes.
Bring art supplies. Bud likes to paint. You’ll need
to take the supplies with you as some of the other residents
may try to consume the paint, paper or pencils. Do not be shocked
by what Bud will paint.
When walking the hall ways keep looking forward and not into
any other residents’ rooms. Looking in those rooms with
scare the crap out of you. You will give up cigarettes if you
smoke, beer if you drink and French fries if you do drive thru.
But please visit Bud. He’d really like to see you.
Bud had a stroke August 8,2003.
He is paralyzed on the left side.
Bud resides at the Plant City Convalescent Home.
The address is:
2202 W Oak Avenue, Plant City, Florida 33563-7222
(if you get lost call the receptionist at 754-3761,
ask for Betty).
How to get there from Tampa:
click for larger map
I-4 EAST 16.6 miles.
Take the THONOTOSASSA RD exit- EXIT 19
- toward PLANT CITY.0.4 miles
Merge onto THONOTOSASSA RD/FL
-566 W toward SR-39 S/PLANT CITY 0.7 miles
Turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto N LEMON STREET. 0.2 miles
Turn RIGHT onto W OAK AVE. 0.1 miles
End at 2202 W Oak Ave, Plant City, FLORIDA
What to know when you visit:
Be prepared. Convalescent homes are difficult places to visit
and leave feeling peachy about anything whatsoever.
I caution you to be prepared to see awful sights and then
feel pretty rotten on the car ride home. Which leads to another
suggestion…don’t go home. Go hug someone, especially
someone you know.
Maybe come for a visit with a friend. A friend who is able
to share a pretty depressing time and still be a friend.
Bud is paralyzed on the left side.
He prefers that you stand and speak to him on his right side.
He may mention it, but after a while he won’t so he’ll
tire quicker straining to see you on his left.
Plan on being there close to an hour.
He may ask you to wheel him about the place, indoor and out.
Unless you take a younger designated driver please have your
morning bowl of corn flakes with extra milk because pushing
his chair around is not easy. Navigating around the residents
and looking out for Bud’s left leg not to hit something
are the highlights.
When talking to Bud I’ve found that I can mix equal
portions of our past together (he likes to share old stories)
with what I believe are optimistic observations on his health
and his attitude. Try to be genuine even if he looks like warmed
over cheese grits.
Its been requested by the family that we do not feed him.
Leave the ‘home’ to keep him in mystery meat and
Sadly over the last year and half Bud’s developed a
real taste bud (pardon the pun)for fried greasy shrimp from
the local drive-in.
Many of us visitors mistakenly have fed that dependency.
The ‘home’ has pointed out the somewhat unhealthy
nature of Bud keeping a high level of bad cholesterol in his
system so out of respect of all those who still care for him
we’ve cut that particular habit down to a minimum. No
shrimp, no taco bell, no milk shakes.
He still likes apple pie but again that’s a no-no, due
to his diabetes.
Bud will ask for money. Leaving an occasional twenty dollars
is up to you. I’ve done that many a time.
But, lately I bring him art equipment and some personal hygiene
/ toiletries stuff. He always needs lotions, creams, toothpaste,
Bud is currently in his religious phase in his art. He works
exclusively in water. If you bring anything bring tempera,
brushes, paper, journal books, gold/silver pens, pens (no ballpoint
There are several ‘residents’ who live vicariously
through Bud’s visitors. These include Bam-Bam, Sparky,
Robert (his roommate) and the one old lady who holds a baby
Please be friendly to everyone you see.
Walking to Bud’s room is a difficult proposition. Its
hard not being curious about the other residents. Who are they?
who left them here? how are they? How long do they have?
Most of the residents are very old people who mostly wait.
They wait for visitors, they wait for meals, they wait to be
helped go to the bathrooms , they wait for visitors who don’t
come around and they sadly wait to die.
Bud lives everyday in this environment. Finding someone to
communicate with who isn’t in nurse’s uniform can
be difficult, so Bud needs stimulation.
A solution is visitors. That’s where everyone can come
in to help.
Each of your visits is memorable and important for Bud and
he may comment on them then the next time you visit.
Remember Bud is still the Bud we all know.
The big difference is that he is partially paralyzed and therefore
has lost his ability to move independently. This is the first
time in his life that he can remember that he’s not moving.
I imagine that to be difficult for him.
He needs visitors. He needs friends with a sense of humor.
He needs to reminded that we all love him in some form or another.
That he is still important in our lives.
But my essay is not about feeling down or defeated. Bud is
still Bud. Bud is still around. We all can play a small part
in maintaining him being Bud. All the small parts will add
That’s my idea of what to do and that’s my small
goal for all his true friends.