Thursday, April 23, 2009


I first spotted her sputtering on my porch, greasy silver hair pulled up an octopus clip on top of her head. She was agitated, angry. Anguished.

Two thoughts came to me at once: the elderly woman throwing a tantrum was from across the street, an in-home resident care facility, and Lexi was bouncing a tennis ball, right around the corner.

I stepped into the garage as my daughter burst into tears, and I noticed one of the paid caregivers, on the sidewalk, on the phone.

I ushered Lexi inside and waited for her custodian to come to my aid, blocking the entrance into my home as she pleaded and wailed.

I was filled with sympathy and alarm and useless; Russian words spilling on my ignorant ears.

Her minder approached and handed her the phone, and I stepped inside the house, locking the door behind me.

I wondered what kind of person locks the door on a confused old lady? Her mind was muddled, but her body was strong and she was forceful. She yelled after me; shook the door, rattled the knob and pounded until Zack climbed into my lap, visibly frightened.

Eventually, she wandered out of our garage, around the corner, the woman in scrubs trailing behind her and I tried to answer Zack's questions: Why did she want in our house? Why was she angry? Why was she crying?

I don't know but something tells me she was living in another time and space, somewhere far from here, reliving days at dusk, before she came to this strange land and became a stranger to herself.


lapoflux said...

a person who wants to protect her children and the elderly woman - she had someone looking out for her on the porch, you didn't abandon her.
I am terrified of growing old. It breaks my heart to see once strong people incapacitated.

Madge said...

so important to remember at one time she was like us, young, confident (for the most part), she thought this day would never come.

stephanie (bad mom) said...

Wow, that is tough. I remember being terrified of people in the nursing home where my great-grandma lived; now I see more of my potential self in them, which doesn't necessarily comfort me much...


It was so sad because I think she thought I was someone else, that I could understand her and I was being cruel, locking her out.

Who knows who she thought I was?

As for our days ahead, I pray for a graceful end. Full of dignity.

It helps to know that most of the residents are visited frequently - I see the same cars here, over & over again. That gives me some comfort.

Tricia said...

Losing our minds is the cruelest twist of fate.

Shana said...

Wow, what a tough situation. You can't guilt yourself over letting maternal instinct trump sympathy for a stranger. It's instinct, after all. I can't think of much I fear more than being alone, frightened, confused and old.

Mrs. G. said...

That is so sad. Like Stephanie, I find my myself relating more and more with the elderly. I'm not sure what that says, but it's true.

Stu said...

At least you did not close the big garage door on her. That would have been more awkward.


Stephanie Breuner said...

More and more, I am hopeful for eternity when all ugliness, darkness, and decay will be vanquished and we will no longer be surrounded and touched by the way sin has contaminated our world and bodies. I hope that the woman will one day be able to experience a release from this dark hold on her mind.

flutter said...

you didn't do anything wrong.

unfortunately, neither did she. How sad.

Mrs. Chicken said...

You acted on instinct. It wasn't something wrong. Just terribly sad, for all of you.