Ada & Charlotte or why you will always need a BestiePosted: April 4, 2012
It’s hump day of Spring Break. So far I’ve gotten dirty, sticky, scratched and sore in the yard and garden.
I’ve been to a funeral for just the visitation part. I’ve seen a full on dead man in an open casket right up by the entrance to the sanctuary, not even all the way down by the altar, just right all up there in your face first thing. “I’m sorry for your, oh look it’s your dead husband, loss” This man was in his late 80′s and his elderly wife was parked in her wheelchair just right up next to his gentlemanly dead head, all made up like he was smiling. She just sat there while people pointed at poor dead her husband and looked at him and nodded. I’ve been to a lot of funerals. My Mom died when I was 6 months old, I’ve lost all my grandparents and my own Dad. I grew up in a culture where when someone you love loses someone they love, you pull out your black dress and go pay your respects. If there is an open casket you just give the dead person a reverent once over and deal with it. I’ve probably only ever stared at one dead body at a funeral and that was the first wife of a Dear Man who lost his brother and the reason for my presence at this particular funeral. When my Mom died they helped take care of me until my Dad remarried when I was 3. Most of Dear Man’s family knows me as “The girl my first wife and I helped raise”, I think they (his family) see me as some sort of wayward orphan child, or street urchin instead of the 41 year old woman who sits on an executive oversight board and runs half marathons. I’m not sure he is far ahead of them on the perception scale. I love him fiercely though and I’ve attended many other surreal events like this to spend time with him or show him my love. I’m middle aged at this point, all cougar ( I am NOT a cougar) and MILF ( I AM a MILF) joking aside, I am middle aged. My kids are on the down hill slide through school into college and out of my house. MiniMe is 9, we only have 9 more years to have her college fund together. It is SO NOT TOGETHER, but I am digressing. My point here is that I am at an age and I have kids at an age that I’m also in the middle age of my young motherhood duties. I really LIKE being here. I love being 40, I look forward to the next 20 years of my life, and the 20 years after that is sort of in I’m sure I’ll enjoy that when I get there, I wonder what that will look like land.
But this open casket story is simply the back drop for what happened next. I got there about a half an hour into visitation hours, found the Dear Man and his 2nd wife ( of 20 years), Tried to think of something appropriate to say when he pointed right at his dead brother and said “Don’t we look alike?”. I may or may not of actually said, “You look more vibrant”, Seriously, what do you say to that? I always choke in situations like this. When I was ready to leave I made a stop in the church bathroom on the way out. In typical funeral style it was occupied by women in way more clothes than any of them would like to be wearing. I made a black capri pants and heels fashion choice but many in this crowd were in full Sunday best, and for many older folks in my state this means skirts and pantyhose. There were a few women older than me in there and one elderly lady standing as if she was in line. I asked her if she was in line and she didn’t really answer. I had to go pretty badly, but she looked confused. The other two ladies approached her as well, it was determined that she didn’t really know where she was or why she was there. She was smartly pulled together, She was old and frail. The other ladies just sort of walked past her and left, and then it was just us. Me inside a stall peeing and her alone in the bathroom confused. Another surreal situation, only this was is kind of important because this lady has to belong to someone. Hopefully they will come looking for her. But she could be strong willed and stubborn like me and maybe she wandered off to go to the bathroom by her own damned self thank you very much, How can I help this lady while I finish doing what I need to. Someone had established that she was in a bathroom before leaving. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know why I’m here. Where do I go?” I tried to give her verbal instructions, it is in this moment the absolute fact that when we age we become like fragile preschoolers again hit me in full force. Do you have to go potty? Can you see the blue doors/ walk this way. There right in front of you should be a a nice big handicapped stall. I got her inside and gave one attempt at getting her to lock the door, no dice. Then we wrestled with the clothing situation. This whole time I felt like it was taking forever to pee, I just wanted to be able to finish and get out to actually help her. I could see her fumbling with her long skirt and getting frustrated. I asked her if she had on hose? She said yes and I told her to pull up her skirt and pull down her hose, don’t forget your panties. I tried to get her to scooch closer to the toilet before she started yanking things down to her knees and making walking infinitely harder. Somehow I made it out of my own stall in time to be able to stand there and hold her door closed for her. She got her hose and panties pulled down and got herself seated, albeit sideways on the stool so she could go. Now the whole time this is going on I am calm because I have to take control of this situation, but a couple of different things are racing through my mind.
- All of this would be so much easier if I could just go in there and help her. The pro con war to that decision worked out in no I cannot go in there and help her. She is an adult, but she is also at the toddler point of elderly. You’d NEVER go in a stall with some other ladies little kid even if it needed help and you can’t do that with someone’s confused elderly relative either.
- Annoyance at where is the person who should be looking out for her coupled with fear that this poor lady will also make a mess and add some additional complexity to this already unfortunate situation.
I had just started on the verbal instructions to make sure to scoot back far enough and how she could locate the toilet paper when to my relief a not that much less old than this lady walked in and said Ada, are you in here? It’s Charlotte. She is right here I told her. Charlotte walked past me into that stall, locked it behind her, went right over to Ada and proceeded to be able to get in there and help her. As I smiled and turned to wash my hands and go a few things hit me.
- How many times I’ve been at an event and peed with a bestie in the stall with me
- How it was not Ada’s husband, or daughter, or granddaughter in there helping her with the indignity of being so old you become confused with the simple act of taking yourself to the bathroom, it was her friend Charlotte.
- Ada and Charlotte seem like the perfect names to a touching story about old lady Besties still looking out for each other. Hopefully I’ll still have some Besties around to make sure I get to the bathroom and back ok when I’m their age.
- I’ve got another 40 years of living to do before I reach that age and I’m looking forward to all of it, middle age isn’t bad all the time.