As an only child, I had all the elderly mother caretaker privileges by myself.
I say privilege because it was something I was happy to do, although sad at the same time. My parents were forty when I was born and so my world was hanging around with my parents’ older friends. Had I been born to a mother who was twenty, my own parents could have been my grandparents. My friends’ parents were anywhere from 10-15 years younger than mine. They were youthful and energetic while I visited their homes. Mine? Not so much.
I always worried that my parents would pass away long before all my friends’ parents did. Not the case. I had mine for a lengthier time than expected but mother was last to pass.
Soon after, my friends were going through what I had experienced. Some of them had to decide on nursing homes, hospitals, and assisted living locations. I remember how nice it was for someone outside the family to take the time to visit my mother in her later years. I wanted to pay forward that nice gesture.
Because so many were living in one place, I visited three or four octogenarians all in one trip. I was used to having conversations with older people so I enjoyed the visits.
One day after visiting a friend’s parent in the nursing home, I was strolling down the hall near patients’ bedrooms on the way toward the entrance door. In this corridor was one of the sweetest looking women I had ever seen. Since she was moving slowly I was about to catch up with her and it was then I noticed her sparkling ice blue eyes, totally white hair, and angelic visage. She smiled at me and I wondered if she really was an angel. Then she said, “Hello” and her voice had such melody I took an instant liking towards her.
Before I could return her greeting, this Wacko-Wicked-Witch-Of-The-West-Type-Woman appeared, walking faster and catching up to us. This scowl-faced, scrawny, uncombed straw-like-wild-haired hag spoke as she pointed to the beauty next to me and while passing us said, “She’s been cussing at me all day and calling me names.”
First - how did I get pulled in this nursing home drama? And second – it just could NOT be true because my new doll-faced friend was as adorable as she could be while the other was a wretched woman. The ugly woman’s scratching voice continued, “I mean it. Calling me names ALL DAY!”
The sweetheart next to me lowered her head, looked up shyly with doe-like eyes and said timidly in her little-girl soft voice, “I have not. I don’t know what she’s talking about.” I looked in her eyes and said gently, “I understand. I am sure you didn’t. I don’t know why she thinks I am interested in hearing what she has to say. I really don’t want to get involved. Let’s just ignore her.”
The loud, crass woman walked on ahead of us in a huff, made a quick turn into her room, but left her door open. The darling woman and I walked together a few steps together down the hall but as I had to depart, I started to walk a little faster. I was not out of earshot when I realized what this nursing home beauty was saying aloud while she passed the biddy’s apartment. Having to see it for myself, I turned to find that angel had directly stopped by her adversary’s room and yelled, “B****!”
Here was another reminder to self: DO NOT judge a book by its cover.
Lee St. John, a retired Coweta County high school English teacher, is the author of five humorous books and two audio books.