Do I LOOK like I belong here?

I must digress from the story of Jason and Laura’s wedding for a moment to tell you what happened today. I headed over to the nursing home to visit my mom. They are in the midst of a flu epidemic over there so I was a little nervous about putting myself in the midst of all those germs but I hadn’t been there for awhile and I was really missing Mom.

Just as soon as I entered the home, there was a prominent sign warning folks about the presence of “The Flu” and an equally prominent antibacterial soap dispenser on the counter with a sign advising all visitors to wash their hands with this soap before and after their visit.

I dutifully lathered up, grabbed a paper towel and then decided against pitching that towel since it would be useful to open and close doors with. I figured I might be able to avoid actually touching any door knobs that way.

Off I went down the hall to Mom’s wing, which just happens to be the dementia ward. As I passed the dining hall I noticed that it was practically empty. “Probably keeping everyone in their rooms,” I thought. “Divide and conquer. Makes it easier to control the spread of germs that way.”

I found myself creeping along behind an elderly woman who was being given a tour of the facility by one of the staff. When she got to the door into the dementia wing, the staff member told her how the door can be opened by visitors and staff but is rigged to stay locked if one of the residents is within so many feet of the door. The staff member cautioned the lady to be careful whenever she went through those doors because some of the residents living on the dementia wing liked to try to slip through when a visitor came or went.

“Do they do that often,” the lady asked.

“You’d be surprised how often they try and you’d also be surprised by how persuasive they can be when they try to talk visitors into letting them go out. Some look quite normal but their minds aren’t really all there,” she said.

By now, the two ladies had passed through the doors and I slipped in behind them, still trying not to touch anything. The visitor looked up at me, startled and asked the staff member, “Should I have let her through?”

“It’s OK,” I assured her. “I’m actually one of the ones whose mind is still here.”

She looked me up and down rather doubtfully so I continued on, “No, really. It’s OK. I’m here to visit my mother. She lives on this wing.” At that point the staffer finally jumped in and came to my rescue, assuring the lady that I was indeed a visitor, just like her.

So now I find myself wondering what was it about me that made that lady think I belonged on the dementia wing? Was it the crumpled paper towel I was grasping in my hand? My “Inspector Monk”-like horror as I tried to dodge the door before it could touch me? Maybe it was the spiked hairdo or the dilated pupils which I can directly blame on the allergy medicine I took that morning. In any case, there is a little part of me that would have LOVED to give that lady a real show this morning……to have busted loose and acted crazy as a loon like Jack Nicholson in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” But then again, do I REALLY want to have my mother as a roommate?

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