I live in a senior apartment complex and the people here range from 55 years old to the upper 80’s (God bless them). One thing I’ve learned about getting older is that if you last long enough you’ll end up with one thing or another – if it’s not arthritis or diabetes it’s heart disease or cancer – not counting a wide variety of lesser known and unpronounceable maladies. These complaints not only provide a limitless source of conversation among the residents but a sense of camaraderie if not compassion.
Which leads me to tell you a story about Beverley who is a feisty little Jewish lady on the downhill side of 70. Beverly has some exotic malady in her brain that periodically affects her speech and throws off her sense of balance, often leading to falls.
She spends part of everyday sitting on the bench outside of the community center in conversation with other ladies and enjoying a good gossip about who is doing what to whom and how often. On all of these occasions she is accompanied by her little black dog Masel Tov who in dog years is neck and neck with Beverly and grudgingly keeps to the pace of her walker as they make the regular circuit from apartment to center.
Our current triple digit temperatures have pushed back everyone’s strolling schedules to take advantage of the cooler evening air so the other night while watching America’s Got Talent from the comfort of my easy chair I was not surprised to see Beverley ambling by with her walker and Masel Tov at her side.
As I watched them through my patio door, Masel took the pause that refreshes on the lawn. Beverley, conscientious neighbor that she is, pulled out the ubiquitous plastic bag, hooked the dog‘s leash to the walker and bent down to pick up the offending deposit with one hand.
But then not being quite close enough to capture the prize, Beverley took another step forward and in doing so carelessly let go of said walker. Before you could say “Whoops” the walker, with Masel Tov trotting smartly by its side, was rolling down the sloping sidewalk, over the concrete edge of the parking lot and heading for points west at quite a clip. Masel, no doubt delighted to finally advance at a brisker pace than Beverley could provide, was wagging his tail and stepping high.
Meanwhile, Beverley, still bending down and viewing this drama from an upside down perspective, called peremptorily, “Masel, Masel, come back here this minute,” which the dog pretended not to hear as the walker had by now crashed into the perimeter wall of the complex and he was busy smelling the bushes to identify the scent of each dog that had passed that way earlier in the day.
I must admit that by this time, I was leaning forward in my ringside seat to see what new wonders might unfold; I hadn’t long to wait. Beverly began to straighten up to reclaim her errant walker and delinquent pooch but being upside down must have activated that glitch in her head. Her knees started fold up like a flimsy lawn chair and before you could say “Uh, oh” she slowly swiveled around like a plump top and very gently sat down in the grass.
Because my conscience was saying “Shame on you for laughing,” I hurriedly grabbed my cane and hobbled to the patio and inquired of Beverley if she was okay to which she replied, “Yes,” and would she like some help, to which she answered, “Please.” With my duty now plainly before me and my mirth firmly under control, I scurried out to her. Since I couldn’t lift her up without joining her on the grass, we agreed that I should first recover the walker and the dog which I did.
With the walker locked in place getting up was easy peasy and Beverly rose like the proverbial nymph from the sea. Once she was dusted off and ready to roll again, I ventured to say, “I’m glad you’re not hurt, but I must admit that it was pretty funny from my point of view.”
“I’ll bet it was,” she replied with a hollow smile, which is like a hollow laugh but quieter. As I walked back into the house, I thought I heard Masel Tov offering some canine song and dance about how he never heard her when she called him.
PS I’ve added a new page to the site titled, Events, which lists the various classes I will be teaching this fall. Join us if you can.