I have to stop writing about the nursing home. People don’t want to read about them. Do they? I can’t promise this will be my last story from the nursing home, but I can’t resist.
I have been visiting my aunt in a spacious, sunny, clean, pleasant, friendly place which would not, by the way, be the worst place in the world if I no longer wanted to worry about the plumbing, impending storms, electricity outages, and getting to the doctor’s office….but that is for a different post.
It’s the love I see there that I have found so moving. My aunt lives, for the moment, in the Skilled Nursing section where there are many men and women in advanced states of disrepair. It is hard to be around them all the time, yet as I look more closely, I am moved.
I have often run into an elderly gentleman who visits his wife every day, always wearing a suit and tie. I first ran into him in the hall when he was speaking to the nurses about which movies they should queue up for his wife to see on television. He was disturbed about disturbing her. That was sweet.
Yesterday I saw his wife for the first time. She was a formerly attractive women, very thin, white-haired, who sat in her wheel chair with her chin collapsed on her chest, dozing off every little while. It was unclear whether she had suffered stroke damage and could not speak, or perhaps she just didn’t have the energy. I know that she had some zest left because when we met a few days previously in the elevator he told me, “The kids and the grandkids came up from the Shore yesterday, and she couldn’t stop crying.”
Yesterday her husband sat next to her in the open area outside the dining room, a kind of holding area for the silent wheelchair-bound. Some of them sat in their wheelchairs staring at the fish in the fish tank. He sat next to his wife’s chair holding her hand. Most of time he stared at her, checking to see that she was comfortable, sometimes stroking her hand with both of his. They sat that way for over an hour. Maybe it was two.
Shakespeare said you don’t know a man until his end, and I guess you don’t know a marriage until its end either.Tags: after 60 nothing is free, growing old, losing a lover, married life, representing older Americans, sex over 60, stories from the nursing home