The old lady on Bayshore Road, you know? The one who stands on the sidewalk looking one of two ways: confused or angry? Today I was walking toward her, as I am wont to do on my way to teaching or walking with the pooch, and she started clapping. She clapped and clapped even. As I neared her, she lit up. “Congratulations,” she said, still clapping, and smiling. “I am so glad to see you here, and congratulations,” she said again. I said thank you, and I told her it was good to see her too, and I kept walking, though she seemed to be home by herself, as she often is, and I am certain she’s too demented to be left alone. What happens when she walks out in front of a car? Or wanders too far from home and can’t find her way back? I’ve seen a car at her house periodically, probably a nurse or a family member, but I’m still worried about her. On her angry days, it’s as likely she’ll hit you as anything else. The look in her eyes, I know it. This past month, I’ve learned that even the most gentle people become aggressive and mean. They don’t know how to express their confusion, or agitation, or whatever, any other way.
Dad hauled off and punched another aide on Saturday night. I’m told he and a group of residents were being read to. He jumped out of his chair, seemingly out of the blue, and punched the poor (pregnant) aide in the face. Mom saw it all. Dad is back in Riverside, the psychiatric unit. We’re looking for a more intensive nursing home for him to live in because the people at his assisted living “memory care unit” have no idea what to do with him when he’s angry, nor can they, by law, administer any emergency doses of shut-the-hell-up drug. Square one. Poor dad. Today as I was walking back from a meeting with some students, a realization washed over me. I am a woman without a dad. I’ll tell you something. I wish he’d had the balls to kill himself before going down like this.