Be pleasant to the Elderly
And do not call them names,
Like “Silverback,“ or “Stinky Pee,”
Or, likewise, “Grandpa James,”
Or “Toothless Grin,” or “Q-Tip Dude,”
Or, “Old Replacèd Knees”:
The Elderly are sensitive to epithets like these.
There’s nobody will more repay
A treatment kind and fair:
At least, so lonely people say
Who know Old Folks, and, by the way
They are extremely rare.
[apologies to Hilaire Belloc]
Yesterday evening Dee and I repaired to one of the local Independent Living places to help one of our friends run the Monday Evening Bingo game.
“Friend” is really too mild a word for Chelo, who is the mother of a dear friend of ours. She’s more like an adoptive Mom, for which reason we call her “Mamacita.” A sweeter lady is hard to find, and her disposition, general attitude, and earthy sense of humor are not necessarily what you’d expect from someone who has made Piano Keys.
Going to the Independent Living environment is entertaining in and of itself. This is a self-contained place with nowhere near the immensity and geographical footprint of, say, The Villages, but it is nevertheless possible to venture a few social observations. For example: There are two types of people that predominate in any large gathering of Senior Citizens - the sweet and the cranky. It tends, always, toward a bimodal distribution with nobody in between. You’re either one or the other.
Another observation: People retain their ability to surprise. Octogenarians - like the lady with whom we shared our dinner table - will do things like jump out of airplanes. Nonagenarians will kick your ass at Scrabble.
Bingo never fails to please. The last time Dee and I helped run a Bingo game was over twenty-five years ago at our synagogue in Connecticut, where people took the game extremely seriously. I’m talking about people who would come decked out with an array of stamps, lucky tokens, statuettes, you name it. This place was sedate by comparison.
We would pull the numbers out of an air-stirred tank of ping-pong balls and Chelo would announce them, one by one, until someone hit their BINGO! Then we would check off the card and pay the winner(s). Not exactly World Series of Poker-levels of suspense, but it was a room full of people enjoying the evening together... and we were glad to be a part of it.
And especially with Chelo... our Mamacita, mi quérida.