Will and I hopped up to Attleboro today to check out my grandmother’s husband’s new digs. He’s pushing 80 and he’s no longer able to live by himself, so today is his first day in the assisted living facility. It’s a very nice facility with great food, lots of events, a pub and frequent field trips. But…
It’s got old people. And lots of ’em.
I don’t hate old people. Well, I don’t dislike ALL old people. But I am very uncomfortable around most of them. However, when you bring an adorable blonde, blue-eyed bounding baby boy into a home for the elderly, it’s a recipe for disaster.
At first I tried to navigate the hallway in stealth mode, hoping none of them would look up from their BINGO game. I pushed the button for the elevator but my heart went into my throat when it lit up. Bright lights are a surefire way to make Will squeal in delight, and this was no exception. As the delighted baby noises chirped out of his mouth I swear things went into slow motion like a bad action movie.
One by one, all of the white hairs (at least the ones with hearing aides) looked up to identify the odd noise. Squinting, they all reached for their glasses and before the elevator could open we had been spotted. I swung around, clutching Will in my arms to protect him but it was too late.
Slowly but with determination, they began to rise up and move toward us. They grabbed their walkers and rose up like a wrinkled army of impending death. As they shuffled closer, I could hear strains of their excited conversation:
“Someone’s grandchild is here.”
“Edna, is that your grandson?”
“Look at the blonde hair and the cheeks.”
At first, Will was delighted to see so many people coming over to pay attention to him. But I knew better. If Will only knew what was in store for him. And since we had apparently picked the slowest elevator on the face of the planet, I had no choice but to succumb to their vericose demands.
They started out ogling Will and mentioning how cute he was. Will played it cool and gave them all very cute waves and blew them kisses.
Bad move buddy.
The blowing of kisses put the white-haired army over the edge and they took it as an open invitation to invade our physical space. Soon there was cheek pinching, hand grabbing, leg squeezing, hair twirling and even full on kissing. And as you might imagine, it was way too much for Will.
It didn’t even take 30 seconds in the sea of senility for Will to get freaked out. I figured he’d just cry and get fussy and that would be my excuse to get the hell out of there. But much to my surprise, Will opted for a different approach.
He fought back.
As a multitude of wrinkly, vericose-veined hands reached toward him Will countered by slapping them! I’m not kidding, he must’ve smacked at least three pairs of hands away before I could get him away from the crowd. I have to be honest, I was delighted. Not that I want to teach him that it’s OK to hit people, but when your personal space is violated without consent then shit happens. Truthfully, I was pretty proud of him.
There were a few nice people there who were still mentally capable of recognizing proper boundaries, but it was depressing to be around some of them. One very sweet woman asked for Will’s name and I told her “William.” Then she delightedly told me William was her father’s name. But 15 seconds later she asked his name again, and I thought she’d just forgot. So I told her William a second time. And for a second time, she excitedly told me William was her father’s name. Very sad. Alzheimers is one of the worst afflictions I can even contemplate.
But at least they’ll get to meet new people everyday (hey c’mon, if I didn’t kid about it I’d cry!)