The Unauthorized Biography of Rosco P. Coltrane

When it's my moment in the sun, I won't forget that I am blessed, but every hero walks alone, thinking of more things to confess

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Location: Owensboro, Kentucky, United States


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Don't Fence Me In

Today, I had to visit a couple of nursing homes to check some scales. I hate doing the nursing home runs. It always makes me sad.

Today was no different.

I was calibrating a doctor's scale and noticed the weight on the beam from the last time someone was weighed. 72 lb. I began to wonder if someone could really only weigh 72 lb. When I looked around at some of the patients, I realized that someone can probably live and be only 72 lb. But it didn't look like they could live very well.

So I just went back to work and tried not to hear the moans and groans coming from the woman with dementia in the room two doors down. It was tough. Really tough.

I began working on a different scale and trying to figure out what was wrong with a wheelchair scale. I found the main thing that was wrong with it was that it had a hinge between the load cells. (I know most people won't understand what that means but I know one person that will, so I decided to leave it in for him.)

Across the hall, there was a man named Mr. Taylor sitting at a table trying to decide what was more interesting: me or a bowl of pudding. I won that contest. He watched me the entire time I was working and laughed an old man's laugh, a wise and pitying laugh. Some other seniors joined him a little later, who I think we blind or nearly blind, and he relayed the events like a baseball announcer calling an up and down inning. I think he was a little bit deaf because his commentary was very, very loud. His words were sparse and to the point. And it seemed that he would laugh that laugh after every sentence, then would look back down at his pudding again.

At first, I got a bit mad thinking of this old man laughing at me, but then I realized that this man might not have any other entertainment for the rest of the day. So I obliged him. I looked confused a few more times and muttered to myself a few more times. I could hear his laughs. After I had finished, I went over and said hello. I told him that I was glad I could be so entertaining. He laughed and told his table mates what I had said. I wanted to ask him about all the good times in his life, the times when a person like myself wasn't the most memorable part of his day. I wanted to ask him about his adventures. I wanted to ask him about his women he used to date. I wanted to ask him about the wars he had fought. I wanted to ask him about the memories he made when he was a younger man like me, but I simply didn't have time. I heard the moans across the hall and looked Mr. Taylor in the eyes.

He smiled, but it was a sad smile. His eyes conveyed all those years not being trapped in a frail body behind magnet locked doors. I recognized that look.

Don't fence me in...

And in that moment, I wanted to carry his frail body out the door and try to make a break for it. Make a break, so that he might feel like a young man again, passionate and filled to the brim with piss and vinegar. Or I could have just wrote down the code to get out of the locked doors. But that would have just gotten both of us in trouble.

I shook his hand and told him it was good to meet him, and that I would see him in 6 months.


Blogger RockinMominAr said...

You're a good man Lafe.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

deep....i teared up a little

5:27 PM  

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