A colleague of mine is fond of sharing memories about his good-natured mother, Mrs. Moore, who passed away a few years ago. She never lost her sense of humor even in the later years of her life, while living in a nursing home. Though I never met Robert Moore’s mother, I dedicate this to her.
As it happens, strangers often make wrong assumptions about residents in nursing homes. This can range from underestimating a person’s ability to hear or see, to falsely believing some other myth about old age. Sometimes even friends and relatives who have been away for a while can superimpose notions about people that just aren’t true. They assume the worst.
In the case of Mrs. Moore, a distant relative who came to visit one day would be in for quite a shock. Thinking that Mrs. Moore was not in control of all of her faculties, the relative asked with a somber face: “Do you know who this is?” Quickly she added, as if to make sure the old woman understood, “Do you know who I am?” Mrs. Moore stared at the younger woman for a few seconds and then, with an inquisitive but ornery look, squinted her eyes, slowly shook her head and posed this unforgettable quip: “You don’t know who you are?”
On another occasion, her adult daughter came to visit her at the home and did what she had been doing her entire life: she told her mother, with an announcing tone, the fact that she had to “go to the bathroom”. For probably 50 years, Mrs. Moore had been gently mocking these regular proclamations with such witticisms as “Thank you for that announcement”, or “Perhaps you want me to call in the reporters from the evening news?” This time no such jest would be heard, for Mrs. Moore was no longer able to speak. But she was not done. No, no. She gathered her strength, then three times softly placed one hand against the other, and quietly applauded.
You are applauded today, Mrs. Moore. Though I never knew ye. You have reminded us that old people are people. Sometimes very, very, delightful people.
First posted at All Assisted Living Homes
David is currently an adjunct instructor of Composition and Speech at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. His wife and he have also owned a business selling antique and collectible postcards on eBay since 1999. David was an activist with Operation Rescue in the early 1990s. He is a member of Trinity Presbyterian Reformed Church in Johnston, Iowa.
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