Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Parallel Universe in an Elevator

I needed a break from worrying and calling and emailing and strategizing  (is the eye infected can we get her out of bed what about the air conditioner where can we let her still make decisions so she feels she is not meaningless does anything we do even matter).

Headed over to a friend.  Another old building, those elevators took forever to show up.  After a long wait, I caught an empty one and just as I was about to ride to the 9th floor, a young hand shot out and stopped the door from closing.

Two women entered - a young home attendant puzzled by a voice mail on her cellphone and the other a tiny little old lady as fragile as a dandelion and obviously loved enough to be dressed well and smell clean.

The little dandelion leaned on her walker and looked at me - that sweet little girl look that often come back with dementia. I smiled at her. I smiled because I knew how few people did.  Old age is what cancer used to be - if you don't look it in the eye it will never happen to you.

Such loneliness, such loneliness. To be visible and not be seen.

The two women got off on the 6th floor, the home attendant gently guiding the little dandelion out. But once in the hallway, the dandelion stopped and, befuddled, pushed her walker back towards the elevator.

As the door closed, I heard the young home attendant gently coaxing her back:  “Florence. Florence. This way. It's this way home."