After dinner I walked Frank to his room, helped him get into pajamas and got him into bed. He wanted to watch T.V. The PBS pledge drive was in full swing but Frank had no desire to watch a reasonable facsimile of The Temptations with one original member, sing to a crowd of hand clapping sixty something’s … and neither did I..
I turned the TV off. Frank curled into the fetal position. Within five minutes I heard him snoring.
While I sat back in the recliner chair in Frank’s room, I recalled an incident that happened at dinner.
I watched a staff person I hadn’t worked with before, pass out hot towels to the patients while I filled their glasses with orange juice from a dispenser along one wall. As soon as everyone had a towel, the staff person began retrieving them. Very few had a chance to use their towell.
One patient Elizabeth, who is frail and slow moving, hadn’t unrolled her towel when the staff person began yanking it away. Elizabeth hung on but the staff person prevailed.
I approached the staff person, closely enough so that no one could hear and said, “’What the fuck, whatever your name is, is wrong with you? Do you enjoy being mean to sweet, defenseless old ladies? You got a thing about people with Alzheimers?”
She glared at me, walked to the refrigerator and peered inside as if she was looking for something. I told her she could finish filling their glasses with juice, while I moved around the room picking up towels as each patient finished using them.
Later, while sitting a table with Muriel, (another frail lady) and Talia, a new patient from Indonesia who has a royal bearing … the staff person pulled up a chair and sat with us, next to me. I glanced at her to see what her attitude was. Both ends of her mouth were pulled straight back thinning her lips. Was she smiling or disgusted? I looked across the table at Talia. “Oohh boy. Why are you so mad?” The staff person laughed hard for no apparent reason.
When she laughed, I thought she wanted to appear nonchalant and relaxed but instead her laughing sounded so strange that the room grew silent. Every person in the dining room turned and looked at her.
Talia picked up the end of her spoon and with her thumb and index finger, lightly tapped it onto the table cloth, while staring intently at the staff person. ‘’Ooooh boy .. why are you laughing?” The staff person stopped, abruptly. ‘‘I was thinking how funny it would be to introduce myself to each of these people every day but tell them a different name every time. They’d never know the difference.” Laughing. Pause. “Well hell, if you can’t find something to laugh at around here, you’ll start crying.”
Talia slowly shook her head from side to side.
I felt disgust for the staff person. I stood up, walked behind the food counter and stacked up the remaining desert plates. When I looked up, Talia’s unblinking eyes were locked onto mine. I couldn’t look away. Talia slowly nodded her head at me. I felt compelled to nod my head in return. I knew what she was thinking.
While looking into my eyes, Talia spoke vicious, evil sounding words under her breath, in some dialect I had never heard before. I thought that maybe they were Indonesian words meant to cast an evil spell.
I’m home now. I just turned the TV off. It’s around one a.m. I just finished watching Wutheing Heights. At the end of this particular version, Kathy and Heathcliff walk hand in hand, toward a bright light beyond the crag where they used to meet and confess their love for each other. (laughs through his nose)
I know Charlotte Bronte did not write this silly ending.
My eyes are closed now. I’m moving my head from side to side. I’m thinking, “What audacity. Everyone knows, even if they won’t admit it, there are no happy endings.”