Friday, 15 December 2006

If this post were a person, it’d be whiny and despicable.

(But hey, this is supposed to be where I can verbal vomit, right? Better out than in.)

The whole scenario was like something out of a B-grade horror movie. A horde of zombies groaning insistently for “Brains! Brains!” through putrefying lips shambled towards the teenage lovers cowering helplessly in their car, powerless to prevent their imminent demise. Except that even as this comparison flitted guiltily through my head, it was not an appreciation for its black comedy that I felt, but rather a sadness for the frailties of age in once-vigorous people.

Visiting my grandmother in her nursing home last week, my young, delightful children were the antitheses of the aged, shuffling men and women denied by nature the dignity of self-reliance in their latter years; consequently, they were as an oasis to a parched desert wanderer, or, well, a skull-full of grey matter to the insatiable undead. All eyes swivelled in their direction, while those who were able made their way towards us to pinch cheeks and croak out questions Miss Lonie was too shy to answer. I felt pained for those confined to their chairs staring wistfully at Miss and Master Lonie, vainly trying to attract their attention and entice them closer, while Miss Lonie, as frank and tactless as any child her age, hid her face from their strange, wizened visages.

A week’s worth of daily visits with my cherubic baby and button-cute girl made my nanna the envy of the home, I’m sure, but I must confess that even as we granted her that small pleasure I was selfishly thinking how sad it made me feel to be there and see the ravages time can wreak on the body and mind. I was reminded of the incident when, about six or seven years old, I was waiting in the car while my mum popped into a nursing home on some errand. A resident had wandered out alone and, spotting me in the car, was inexorably drawn to my window and peered smilingly in, enjoying whatever reminiscences the sight of a child dredges up in dementia-addled minds. Callow and incapable of reasoning through the situation, I concluded this poor woman was intent on, as I had been led to believe of strangers, abducting me, and I began to cry. Of course the fear and later chagrin at the teasing for my mistake, have now been replaced by pity. A pity which manifested itself in disgustingly self-indulgent maudlin tear-prickings during the afternoon’s nostalgic sing-along, when I realised that although many residents can’t walk or remember where they are, lyrics from their heyday are etched in their memories.

Now my nanna lies, as I learnt mere hours ago, stroke-afflicted and vulnerable to imminent death, and this revolting, snivelling, rambling confessional-type post does no one any good. Perhaps it would be better to acknowledge the dark humour of such situations rather than whinge about poor me and my sensitive nature, which excuses me from phoning my grandmother because her lapses in lucidity make me sad. In that case, here is some advice:

Eat dairy for your bones. Do cryptic crosswords for your mind. And (as my recently deceased grandfather can attest) beware a visit from me and mine, for we are the harbingers of doom.

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