AgeLooksAtAging

Transforming the conversation on aging.

The Man in the Weelchair by Patricia Kint

He sits in his wheelchair, eyes closed, not sleeping, just escaping. Who knows what he sees? Is he dreaming of the beautiful trout he caught that year in Yellowstone? Or is he remembering his grandson’s first steps? Or is it one of his own children he sees – now grown – but in his memory forever a child? “Don’t run from me, child. Let me look at you. Let me savor the youth, the strength you have, that I may capture some of it for myself.” His eyes open briefly – light up when he sees me – “You’re here. I’m so glad to see you. Shall we go now?” When I explain we’re not going anywhere, he fades back into his trance. He awakens again. Says, “We sang this morning. And I remembered most of the words.” He fades away and then, clear as a bell, asks, “Have you heard from any of the kids? Seems to me Tom is due for a visit today and he and Kathy are going skiing.” And we continue a rational dialog until, abruptly, he asks, “Do you know where I can get my bike fixed? The gears seem to slip when I ride it downhill.” I make appropriate noises and maintain the fiction of a conversation until his dinner is served. He perks up and digs in with gusto. After saying goodnight, I leave. He doesn’t need me now. It will be the same tomorrow – flashes of sanity and the underlying confusion.

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