• author
    • Terri Connett

    • December 23, 2018 in Columnists

    Meanwhile back at the nursing home

    Only in this fuckside-down world of Tronald Dump could I find refuge in a place where people go to die. I feel such empathy for my dad and everybody there. And I recognize this might be the kind of place I’ll be plopped into before I leave this world.

    But Dad and many of his friends are shining examples of how to accept what life has given you, or in this case – taken away – with such dignity and grace. And of course, the main attraction is my dad. His quick wit and ability to make the best of a bad situation keep me going.

    During my visits I’m distracted from the exhaustive embarrassment and scuzzy disgust that is Donald Jagoff Trump. Please turn off your CNN alerts and join me in a brief escape from the madness.

    Institutional Living
    94-year-old Martha was lamenting about her noisy new roommate. My dad offered to be her roomie but Martha politely pushed back.
    Pops: “It’ll be fine. We can pull the curtain between us and I’ll just cut a little hole.”
    Me: “So you can peek?”
    Pops: “So I can poke.”

    For a brief time, Dad moved from the social dining room to assisted dining. He explained to new resident, Dorothy, this was the place to be because their food was served first.

    “If we don’t die, they feed the rest of them,” my dad explained. “This isn’t so much a dining room as it is a science lab.”

    Poor Dorothy.

    Painting a Rosier Picture
    A fellow resident walked by us wearing one of those ankle bracelets that sets off the alarm if she makes a break for it. Dad pointed to her foot and said, “Look where she wears her watch. She gets a crick in her neck every time she checks the time.”

    Millie rolled in to the activity room, very disheveled and leaning heavily to one side of her wheelchair.
    Dad whispered to me, “She’s drunk.”
    She looked around the room and, seemingly on cue, slurred, “Ladeeeees and gshentlemen.”
    Dad squealed, “SEE!”

    For those who incoherently mutter and can no longer converse, Dad says, “Oh she’s Italian.” – or – “That’s what you call speaking in tongues.”

    He’s So Quick
    A visitor was chatting with us and it came up that his father had 12 children by three women.

    “He was a horny man,” Dad blurted, “Horny Mancini.”

    Last year, a tearful University of Michigan quarterback was being interviewed on TV after losing to Ohio State. The volume was unusually low so I wondered aloud what he was saying.

    “I’m a crybaby,” reported Dad.

    Pops: “Terri, what’s Spacebook?”
    Me: “Facebook is a tool on your smart phone or computer where you can connect with friends and see pictures they post.”
    Pops: “What if you don’t want somebody to see?”
    Me: “That’s very astute of you! You can block them.”
    Pops: “Can you do that permanently? Like you never have to see the bastard again?”

    My dad, who has short-term memory loss, has an amazing amount of facts and trivia in his head. When I asked how he remembers it all he said, “I google it in my head.”

    “He’s not the sharpest nut in the wood pile.”

    While looking around the activity room – “there are more ugly people in here than good-looking people.”

    “I’d like to pause and refresh before we go down to Bingo.”

    When he answered the phone he sounded a little rough so I asked if he had a frog in his throat – “no, I just had a spoonful of gravel.”

    Voting in the Midterms
    A well-meaning, but woefully misguided, recently-hired, twenty-something activity director refused to hand me Dad’s absentee ballot. With unearned self-assurance, she scolded me for reaching for the envelope. I explained that he was voting and I was merely assisting him. Her face reddened as she stood her shaky ground. She clutched the envelope to her chest and announced no one is allowed to help anybody with an “impairment” during the voting process.

    I didn’t want to make a scene. Okay, I did want to but Dad and I were in the middle of a card game with our friends, Martha and Hazel, and I didn’t want to upset them. So I dealt out the Skip Bo hands and figured I’d deal with her later.

    Baby girl left with Dad’s, and others’, ballots in hand and soon reappeared in the doorway with backup – the thirty-something social worker who apparently also slept during civics class.

    Twiddle and Dee summoned me to step outside the room and tried their darnedest to imply I was attempting to commit voter fraud. I started to lose my shit and implored them to just freaking google it. I reminded them that every single resident in that building was there because of a physical or mental impairment and, if they requested an absentee ballot, they’re going to need help.

    Mount and Gibraltar weren’t budging.

    Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my dad put down his cards. He has the hearing of a bat, but I’m pretty sure I got louder as my dad’s constitutional rights were getting stomped all over.

    I decided to give reason one more shot and asked them to tell me how blind people vote. Helen and Keller stood mute.

    Pops quickly shouted from the card table, “What about people with no hands?”

    “I got this Dad,” I said firmly, not taking my eyes off the voter suppression team.

    “What about blind people with no hands?” Pops yelled.

    And with that, I snatched the ballot out of her silly hand and helped my dad exercise his right to vote.

    Penny Ante Game
    Card: Take a penny if you’ve ever had a Christmas goose.
    Dad: “Well, I’ve been goosed on Christmas. Does that count?”

    Card: Take a penny if you’re a Republican.
    Martha: “I don’t think anybody would admit that these days.”

    And . . . we’re back.

      • Madgew

      • December 23, 2018 at 3:36 pm
      • Reply

      Great story. Was your dad a flirt his whole life? My dad was like that. Today those comments would never work and he would definitely be called out. Their generation thought those comments were sexy, flirtatious and acceptable. I was embarrassed by some of my dad’s ccmmebts as he grew older and I grew up. I would have cringed if it were me in the nursing home. You handled all of it well. For the voting controversy I would have ripped those ballots out of her hand. She was stealing your dad’s mail.

        • Terri Connett

        • December 24, 2018 at 6:05 am
        • Reply

        Thanks, Madge. He’s more of a kidder than a flirt. Dad’s not romantically attracted to Martha (she’s 94, he’s 79). But you’re right, that generation sees it all as complimentary. He’s well aware of the taboo on co-ed roommates. 🙂 I’ve had #MeToo conversations with, including my own experiences, to make him aware of today’s issues. Thank you for reading and happy holidays! 🙂

      • Beth Kozan

      • December 23, 2018 at 5:14 pm
      • Reply

      That made me laugh! Thanks to your dad for keeping his sense of humor, and wit! And you for wrting about him!

        • Terri Connett

        • December 24, 2018 at 6:07 am
        • Reply

        Oh that’s music to my ears! Thanks, Beth! He truly is a treasure. Happy Holidays!

      • Maya Spier Stiles North

      • December 23, 2018 at 10:39 pm
      • Reply

      Your dad is a GOD! And fuck those two losers who would abrogate his civil rights. Short term memory loss does NOT equal not being compos mentis. This infantilization of grown-ass adults is flat out evil.

        • Terri Connett

        • December 24, 2018 at 6:11 am
        • Reply

        He sure is. Thanks, Maya! I had to google compos mentis. (I learn from everything you write.) I must say for the most part, Dad’s caregivers are pretty wonderful, competent and caring. This voting incident was the exception. Happy merry!! 🙂

      • Hsan Janelaura

      • December 24, 2018 at 11:24 am
      • Reply

      What a great piece. I have enjoyed reading this enormously and im going to steal the phrase “I google it in my head”. Merry Christmas and more articles please in the New Year

        • Terri Connett

        • December 24, 2018 at 12:46 pm
        • Reply

        Thanks so much! Dad would be honored to be repeated by you. Merry Christmas and Happy Happy.

      • Rose Peterson

      • December 24, 2018 at 3:01 pm
      • Reply

      Great piece of writing, Terri! God bless you for spending time with your dad and others there – in cards and conversation! I hope we are lucky enough to have family and visitors who know and love us! Merry Christmas – looking forward to more of your writing in the New Year!

        • Terri Connett

        • December 24, 2018 at 5:10 pm
        • Reply

        Aw thanks so much, Rose! Merry Christmas to you too and here’s to health and happiness for us all in 2019!

      • Carolyn Wyler

      • December 26, 2018 at 10:59 pm
      • Reply

      You dad is a kick! Funny! Witty! This was so good Terri!

        • Terri Connett

        • December 28, 2018 at 10:22 am
        • Reply

        Thanks so much, Carolyn. He inspires me by maintaining his wit under the circumstances that the cruelty of MS has put him in.

    • Nice.

        • Terri Connett

        • May 19, 2019 at 11:57 am
        • Reply

        Thanks, Donald!

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