I've met a new friend who also allows large chunks of her days to be eaten up by a process that sometimes finds her dazed, bewildered and just a bit stunned at how much time has just somehow escaped her notice.  She's a writer.  And far cooler than any claim to fame that I could ever hope to bandy about - she's got the very same name as a famous and published author.  She good-naturedly tells her - clearly favorite - joke over and over again, asking me if I don't recognize her name because she's so famous.  Only the spellings are different.  That and the fact that this particular lady is confined to her wheelchair in the senior's home, where she's lost control over her bodily functions.

This lady is a living, breathing, life lesson.  We sit together in a room where I do typing for her because her hands have curled in on themselves, making the task very difficult for her.  Because she prefers to have the door closed for privacy, we sit together in the tiny space that is her room, breathing in the organic smells her rebellious body persists in creating, despite her own best attempts to wrangle some control into the equation.  And as we do, she is dignity Itself.  I want to be just like her when it's my turn at this life-stage.  We don't comment on the smells rampaging angrily about the room, of course, and though she can't even lift her head comfortably up off her chest, she tells me about her childhood, which is a place in her memories that feels most familiar to her now.

Though she was married for decades and decades and had five pulsating, life-filled children of her own, the Figure of Great Importance now in her thoughts and conversation is her larger-than-life stepfather.  She'll talk about him endlessly if you're willing to listen.  He - and his superhero-esque shenanigans - is whom she writes about.  I learn a lot about him as I re-type the tattered pages telling his story. 

I wonder if these twilight people revert back to their childhoods because it was life's happiest time for them or for some other, unrelated reason.  Perhaps it's just a bare-bones scientific matter of the newest neuro-pathways degenerating first.  I wonder if people shackled with unhappy childhoods revert back to that time in their lives, too.  This idea strikes me as being singularly sad.

But this happy, writing, Coca Cola-imbibing woman seems anything but sad.  I love that if it is her lot to dwell in a place not the present, hers is a happy place filled with people she loves and admires.  She spends her days, crippled but mostly content, doing what she loves behind the privacy of a closed door.  People offer her up the dignity of knocking before entering and she is treated well by all who enter.  

Before I leave, she asks if I would trouble myself to open up the plastic wrapper on the new mouse pad she's just ordered from a nearby drugstore.  She chuckles as she watches me do it because she gets an artless kick out of the fact that on its surface are two kittens who can now play with the computer's mouse.  We should all be so lucky to find joy so easily and in such small things.
 


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