|In Memoria Semper Viridis (standard:other, 3245 words)|
|Author: Eutychus||Added: Jun 15 2005||Views/Reads: 1864/1269||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Not everyone you meet in a nursing home has a vacant Alzheimer's stare about them. Fictionalized account of some discussions I had in such a location some twenty years ago with contemporary updating.|
“You really enjoy this avocation of yours,” the wife said as she watched the last of the details go into place. He cautiously powdered the greasepaint and flashed her a modest grin that was greatly exaggerated by the makeup. He slipped on a pair of white gloves and placed the makeup kit in the bottom drawer. “Now to the florist?” Lauren, the owner/operator of Floral Creations, had been donating a dozen carnations per week to his cause for close to a year now. He would stop by the unpretentious little flower boutique in town, gather his bundle, and catch a stare from whoever happened to notice him. Because it was nearing that time of the year for the Insane Clown Posse to play their yearly concert out at the Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, the stares were longer than usual. Twenty minutes later and a dozen miles down the road, he entered the foyer of the county nursing home. The woman at the main desk acknowledged him with a smile and handed him a list of residents who might appreciate a visit. Regardless of the suggestions, he always tried to say hello to everyone, which was a bit of a challenge for a silent clown. He gave her a little wave and began his rounds. As he approached the first floor lounge, he reflected on just how much fun this was. He was able to get away with so much that would never be permitted in polite society were he not wearing the makeup. As the nurse with the outrageous beehive hairdo left the lounge, he pantomimed a pile of hair for his own head and feigned losing his balance from being top heavy. Those who understood the humor laughed aloud because the nurse in question happened to take herself too seriously, making her an easy target for the resident's scorn and frustration. He paused at the wheelchairs of two of the barely ambulatory in the lounge. He searched the faces for some sense that there was actually someone in there. He tried his best to entertain, but sometimes there was just no point when dealing with the later stages of Alzheimer's. Nevertheless, try! As he worked his way through the rooms of those unable to make it to the lounge, he fell into the habit of using old jokes. He hit a supply closet, appropriated several of the urinal collection bottles that hang off the bed rails of the male patients, and used them as vases. The ladies were either shocked or delighted. The beehive shook her head but managed to smile anyway. He eventually arrived at the room of one of the most puzzling residents he had ever encountered. The old guy had a stare, but it was not the vacant stare of the Alzheimer types. It was the intense stare of someone working a difficult word search puzzle or the Cryptoquote puzzle in the local paper, and he was doing neither. “Look, Carl. It's the man mit der funny face,” Carl's roommate announced. Carl looked at the doorway and seemed to relax a bit. The intensity subsided and he beckoned the clown in with his hand. Before engaging Carl, he presented the roommate, Lou, with a carnation in a vase that stood ready at his bedside. He picked up a newspaper sitting by the bed and pretended to read it for a moment. Then he burst into a flurry of activity that ended with a paper hat made of newsprint resting on the Lou's bald head. While Lou indulged in a chorus of “My Hat It Has Three Corners”, he moved over to Carl's bed. Carl was smiling at the performance. “You know, young man, you make a nice memory.” He broke with custom, leaned in close to Carl, and spoke. “Thanks. But how many people remember from week to week?” “He does. The memory blurs a bit by Thursday, but he will always recognize ‘the man with the funny face'. You could probably do the same shtick each week and it would be new to him, but he remembers you.” “I never considered that I don't really need a big repertoire. But the cleaning staff would tire of paper hats after a while.” Click here to read the rest of this story (295 more lines)
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