Stars that fade.
I do my internship at an assisted living, Morning Pointe. I love going there. The residents are so kind and love
talking to anyone who will listen. And I always love to listen. They have awesome stories. This past Friday I went
to The Lantern unit-which is where they keep their alzheimer's patients. I was interviewing a woman on her marriage because
her 68th wedding anniversary was coming up. And she was fine, the alzheimer's must have still been in its early stages. As the woman and I were having a perfectly rational and lovely conversation, I saw one of the women sitting at the table with us trying to steal another man's twinkie. And another woman rolled up to me in her wheelchair and kept asking me for a telephone book. It went something like this:
Elderly woman: I need a phonebook. Do you have one?
Me: um. No. I'm sorry.
Elderly woman: I need to call my church so they can pick me up. Do you have one?
Me: A telephone book? No, I don't.
I turn my head and resume my interview with the lucid woman.
Elderly woman: Hey. Hey! I need to tell you something.
Elderly woman: Oh, forget about it. [She then bursts into tears.]
At this point I have no idea what to do. So I continue my interview. Everyone else at the table is ignoring her crying and
so is all the staff so I decide to do the same. I felt bad.
Elderly woman: [interrupting again] I need to tell you something. Do you have a telephone book?
Me: I'm sorry. I don't. Let me finish talking to her and then I'll talk to you, okay?
Elderly woman nods her head and then her shoulders start to shake and she places her forehead on the table. Sobbing.
When I asked the woman I was interviewing, what was the first thing that attracted her to her husband she said, "He's was tall. And good looking. I like tall men." Don't we all.
After I finished talking to her and told the other woman who was having random spurts of sobbing that I had to go, thank you for talking to me and no, I don't have a telephone book. I left.
The woman I interviewed was fine. She answered all my questions logically and she had a good memory. The other people at the table on the other hand were definitely not all there. And this poor woman who for the most part was fine was placed in the same alzeihmer's unit as them. Wouldn't that make her crazier, quicker?
Then, as I went to the other unit where the people have no alzeihmer's, I saw Mr. Evans. Mr. Evans is a really big guy. He's about 6'2 (and that's after being stooped with age) and he has a healthy appetite. He was also a pretty big deal architect. He even helped design a lot of Southern and he is still razor sharp in his intellect and humor. Mr. Evans is a capable man, a man of consequence. His wife is at Morning Pointe with him and they love each other dearly. They're a sweet couple, they even told me they can adopt me and I can be their daughter. They're cute.
Anyway, Mr. Evans was standing outside his room with his head bowed, his frame covering the whole door. He just stood there like a huge, sad, immovable tree stump. He had all the bearing of being the largest of all the oak trees back in his day but it was like his leaves had all fallen off and someone had taken to chopping him up to half his size. You could still get the sense of what he once was but it was an echo, long gone, about to fade. And when I saw that, my heart broke for the second time that day. Is he even aware that he's fading? He's a smart man. I'm pretty sure he knows.
When I've spoken with him his wit and intelligence shine through and I think to myself if it wasn't for his stroke he wouldn't even need to be here. But then when I saw him standing in front of his door like some great fallen giant I wondered if it was the place that he's in, a place designated for the old and fading, that is urging his demise into impressions of what he once was. I don't know.
Like that other woman I was interviewing. Would she become more ill, quicker because she was surrounded by it? Would Mr. Evans become a shadow quicker because of where he was at? Because everyone around him is doddering and ancient? Because he had no one to talk to about precise lines and arches?
After months of going to Morning Pointe I spotted a new couple and I asked the husband how long they had been living at Morning Pointe, he said, "Oh, I don't live here. I'm just passing through." But when we are passing through (which we all are) wouldn't it be nice if we could thrive instead of just survive? How do you do that when your body and mind betray you? How do you keep the fight if all your tools are rusted?