In Brief—Not every day is the same. Some days are a little different. The author discusses some of those “different” days.
Over the Wall—
A death occurred in this department recently. The escapee was a sturdy ninety-two-year-old man who sat silently at the table in the day room a few days before he escaped the sameness.
A short time later, Berndt moved in to the now-vacant apartment. I was told that he had suffered a mild stroke, but it wasn’t apparent to me as I watched him explore his new surroundings. A big man of seventy-three, probably powerful once, he wandered about assessing the place. The next day, he ate his lunch at the same table as the man who escaped.
Meals are the main occurrence that breaks up the day for most of us in the Old Folks’ Home. I see the other residents waiting silently like expectant birds on a telephone line in their usual chairs for lunch to be served. I wave to them, they wave back. It’s a break in the monotony.
After only a few days, Berndt decided he wanted to go home, the home he had lived in for many years with his former wife. Since their divorce, he had lived alone and taken care of himself. Then a minor stroke intervened. His children quickly decided that the Old Folks’ Home was the place for him, and he was moved in with a few pieces of familiar furniture to make him feel comfortable. But it wasn’t home.
Berndt decided he wanted to go home. He took off his alarm bracelet, hid it and walked out of here. The problem was that his children had immediately put the house up for sale. It may be my cynicism, but the speed of the house being put on the market seems a little suspicious to me. Just a gut thing.
As soon as the personnel discovered that Berndt wasn’t here, they contacted the police. The police found him at home. On being returned here, Berndt plaintively asked, “Is this where I’m expected to die?”
The cheerful lady who often takes care of my needs angrily commented, “He could have been at home with Home Service to help him, but he was brought here.”
Humanity Again Shows Its Beautiful Face—
The same day, on my walk through the departments I saw the lovely 63-year-old woman with Sami (“Lapp”) features put a consoling hand on the arm of a crippled old woman. A relatively young Alzheimer’s resident in a lucid moment consoling a weeping crippled old woman. I almost cried. With all of my disabilities, I am one of the lucky ones.
My next-door neighbor, a spry man the same age as I, complains that nobody comes to see him. A ninety-year-old dementia resident who tests the patience of the personnel with her constant whines and demands melts and croons in delight when our family dog greets her and licks her hand. She ran a restaurant in Solefteå once. She was young and active once. All of us were. Now we’re here in the Old Folks’ Home.
I have written of the sameness of every day here in the Old Folks’ Home. This time was different. There was a ripple in the placid pond we live in…a ripple of humanity.
Update: Berndt has made two additional brief flights from the Old Folks” Home and both times has been returned by the police. The cheerful woman who takes care of my needs informed me that now that she has to put her enfeebled 91-year-old mother in an elder-care facility near here, Berndt has asked her if he can take over the mother’s apartment. Berndt doesn’t want to be here. He doesn’t belong here.