I don't go to nursing homes all that much. Or retirement homes. Or whatever version on the continuum of care an elderly person needs. I'm not elderly myself, but I visit my lovely progenitors from time to time. The homes seem to have progressed since I was 10 and visited several of my great grandparents in their yellow smelling homes in North Dakota. That's where I first encountered knitting: a woman in a wheel chair in the hall, pinching her empty fingers, staring with her empty eyes, repeating, "Knit one, pearl two." I decided then that I would never knit, if that's what it did to you. We visited my grandparents, very old people who looked like they'd spent their whole lives in bathtubs: they were THAT wrinkled. But they didn't quite smell like it. I've told people for 20 or so years now that those great's lived well in to their 100's. I found out recently that they were in their 80's. Ah hell! when you're 10 they're just old. Damn old.
Perspectives change. Old seems younger. Last time we visited, my grandmother, nearing 85, spoke about a friend: "Jonny, how old is so-n-so now?" "Oh... 75 or so." "Oh. so... he's young yet!" This was spoken without irony.
Yesterday, Blue's piano recital was held at one of the fancy homes here in Spokane, the Waterford. This sounds a lot like Coyote's new favorite activity, to waterboard, which does not involved anything involuntary nor giving up secret terrorist hiding spots. Anyway, the place was beautiful, with a lovely grand piano, nice chandeliers, and the decor now common in these homes. Encased in glass displays were tableau's of antiques, apparently in an attempt to coddle these geezers into childhood reveries, as if they weren't already confused and half of them in the permanent time warp of dementia. Coin and arrowhead collections, uncomfortable looking winter shoes with rusty sword-like sleds. The kids noted candle-like wall sconces.
What will be on display in my nursing home? How will the interior decorators there try to befuddle me back into my childhood?
Tract lighting and clip-on goose neck bed lamps fitted with light emitting sources cleverly shaped to mimic the long gone incandescent.
I've developed several glass encased tableau's and/or holograms:
*a walkman leans against an Atari station, a six pack of New Coke, an original Twinky: the boy's den
*Moonboots pose next to a plastic disc sled: a winter memory
*Plastic bangles, a Nite-Brite, My Little Pony Castle, an Alf poster and a canister of Aqua-net: a girl's room
Blue performed well, of course. And afterwards, we were expected to mingle over punch and cookies with people we do not know, will likely not see much of again, and have nothing in common with. This being Spokane, class conscious in the weirdest possible way, lots of mom's there had large, sprayed, frosted bouffants, expensive jeans, tall heels, and big big jewelry displayed against their somehow, very deep May tans: trophies. I smiled big and laughed when I realized I was actually intimidated by them.
Sometimes, I enter a large group and I feel fine. I am me, and no one here is any better or worse, so lets go from there, despite what they might think. And sometimes, I feel like a small rat who really shouldn't be there and I want to hide under the nearest chair, planter and/or antique display of a boy's coin collection. To ease myself out of it yesterday, I imagined everyone at a gathering in a rusty trailer park. I've lived in those, so I wasn't really thinking that was a put down, rather just an income bracket knock down. And the strangest thing happened: these ladies looked really trashy in the trailer park. A muumuu, some pounds on the bones, that would have looked better. Their skinny, mangy, heavily painted look didn't transfer well to the setting in my mind. I wanted to let them know they didn't have to put the red light on. Except it's probably more flattering. I found my fear replaced by sympathy and compassion for the hard life of keeping up appearances they appear to have lived. And lost, once they entered my mind.
And then we came home to the most mad-cap escaped-cow fiasco ever involving a neighbor with a bull whip and several sprints up and down the road resulting in a serious question concerning just how much we could sell them for. I'm still not quite ready and would like to throw good money after bad for a while longer yet. So...here's my question, if fences don't keep cows in, what does?