Monday, July 6, 2009
I try to visit my father, who is in a nursing home, at least once a week. Now that the weather has been nicer, I'm able to take him outside in the courtyard so that he can see our two little dogs and play with them. As I often did, I walked down the hallway, took a couple of turns to the left and headed toward his room to fetch him in his wheelchair. But, on this recent visit, he wasn't in or near his room. I checked the lunch room and the hallways. No Pop. I inquired at the nurses station where he might be. They told me he was most likely watching a movie on the second floor (Amazing that my father is "lost" and no one in charge knows where he is!)
I punched the elevator button and waited for it to come down. One of the residents of the home stood beside me. She was wearing a long-sleeved Minnie Mouse sweatshirt and a pair of black stretchy pants. Her hair was short, curly, thick and silvery, her lips painted a deep red.
"Nice bag," She surveyed me up and down and smiled.
Her hand reached out to touch the beads. "Where'd you get it? Must have been expensive. I would sure like to have that bag."
"I got it at The Mall," I answered while inching away from her.
"I want the bag," she insisted.
"You can't have the bag."
"Give me the bag!" She reached out.
The doors swung open and she quickly moved away, pressing her back against the wall as a young orderly joined us in the elevator. I smiled at the orderly and said hello, but the old woman did not say anything else. As soon as the doors opened again, I flew out of the building to the parking lot and the safety of my car. It's not uncommon to find mentally unstable people in nursing homes. This sweet little old lady might not be able to control her reactions to things, and could do some damage. I kept this in the back of my mind and promised to do my best to avoid her in the future.
I noticed on my next visit that there were no signs of "the Bag Lady" as I referred to her. However, I did run into the orderly again and stopped her in the hallway.
"I haven't seen the woman who was in the elevator with us. I hope she is OK."
She looked confused. "I don't understand."
"The old woman," I explained, "the one who was in the elevator with me when you got on.
"There was no one but you and me in the elevator."
"There was a woman and she wanted my bag."
"Describe her." She folded her arms across her chest and closed her eyes as if to envision the details to make a proper ID.
"Short, silvery hair, very thick. She was wearing a Disney sweatshirt and black sweat pants..."
"Yes, the mouse on her shirt was Minnie--"
"No, I mean her name was Minnie."
"Yes. She passed away last month."