The Old Roue

As promised, here’s yet another essay written by my late grandmother. I recently found a stack of her essays, written when she was in her 80′s.

The Old Roue

By Jeanne Menconi

Reviewing the Medicare eligibility of elderly patients in nursing homes took me into all those facilities in our five local counties every week. I came to know the patients who regularly sat near the desks where I took my notes in each facility. My favorite among these was Jock, a dapper youngster of 94, at Walnut Whitney Convalescent Hospital.

No wheelchair for him. He sat on a straight chair, always in a fresh white long-sleeved shirt, his black eyes snapping as he swiveled about, hailing each person who approached. His vigorous white hair, neatly barbered, gleamed under the neon lights; he had a jolly quip for everyone. I had often thought it was a pity he was confined to a facility, but apparently he’d outlived all his family and had no choice.

One day, however, arriving there late in the day, I saw Jock had a visitor: a large shambling man stood dejectedly in front of him, holding two bags: a gallon just of wine showed at the top of one; the other was stuffed with several freshly laundered white shirts. Jock gestured impatiently for him to set the bags down and began haranguing him.

“When are you going to get me out of this place?” he demanded. “I’m tired of being cooped up. Take me home!” He was strident and impatient.

Yes, I thought, why are you leaving your poor father isolated all these debilitated people? He’s bored to death! But I kept still and pretended to be immersed in my note-taking. When I finished I started down the long hall to the front door, almost in step with the dejected visitor. I couldn’t resist:

“Is that your dad?” I asked.

Turning his anguished face to me, he said, “Yes, and he’s really mad at me because I won’t take him home.”

And well he might, you ungrateful son! I thought to myself. Aloud, I said only, “A good question. Why don’t you take him out of here?”

He turned a tortured face to me.

“Lady,” he groaned, “He’s been married eight times! If I let him out, he’ll just get married again. I’m seventy-six years old. I’m too old to go through all that again!”

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