She’s Just Old


(For additional notes, use reverse side.)

Let the record show the resident identifies as “female” and prefers the title “Mrs. Jones.”

Mrs. Jones causes a lot of trouble. But you can’t blame her. She’s just very old.

It must be scary living in a world where all your friends are gone and society is so very different from when you were a child…

Mrs. Jones has been at this nursing facility since before I started working here, and she is the oldest resident by a wide margin. Someone once told me Mrs. Jones remembers before the teleport was invented, if you can imagine back that far.

In other words, this person “lady” is basically a living history book. And it would be totally cool to sit and listen to all of her stories and opinions…except, sometimes, she says stuff.

Oh, you know how old people are. They just don’t realize that times have changed, and they use words and phrases that are totally inappropriate.

Thankfully, people are gracious most of the time….but I still felt really bad the time Mrs. Jones said, “Hello, young lady” to the new nurse’s aide.

It shocked me speechless for a minute!

I thought the aide might sue!

Later, Dr. Daley explained to the whole staff that Mrs. Jones’ generation believed there was a difference between “genders” or “sexes.” I wasn’t blamed for the horribly derogatory term, (“young lady”) even though I still had to fill out an incident report.

Any time someone is Equality Abused, we document the occurrence. (See case #2412.)

Even when the aide shook it off, I couldn’t believe someone could think it’s okay to call attention to differences.   Mrs. Jones honestly didn’t know she had been rude.

She didn’t get it. So I tried to be gentle.

She’s just old.

Then, there was the time I was brushing Mrs. Jones’ hair and listening to stories about her former life-partner. She called him “husband.” Really!  Sometimes the crass labels catch me off-guard.

Anyway, she told me the two of them were partnered almost 70 years.  Seventy!  And I wanted to hear the secret to their life-long commitment, except she didn’t give me the chance to ask before dropping this bombshell saying, quote:

“We were married back when it meant something. Before you could unite with anything, and no one would argue. It got crazy when homosexuals wanted to marry. Next came marrying multiple people and objects. Nonsense. It turned my relationship with George into just another pony in a wild political race. ”

Yikes.  My mouth dropped open, and my ears kind of stung a little bit.  “Homosexuals?”  “Object Love?” “NONSENSE?!”  Just how long ago did this woman live?!

Obviously, I was really glad it was just me and Mrs. Jones in the room–so nobody was directly hurt by her intolerant comments. But can you imagine the paperwork if a Genderless Couple had been nearby? Maybe I should have reported it…

But all I could do was wonder how awful it must have been when she was younger…when society judged everybody’s lives constantly…and they thought nothing of privacy or personal feelings.

After that incident, I find myself spending less time with Mrs. Jones.

I feel a little guilty cutting the visits short, but her negativity is hard to handle.  When a nurse can spend time with the pleasant, smiling residents who say “thank you” and “whatever you think is best,” it’s hard to choose being near Mrs. Jones–who often rants and raves.

It’s very sad.

But she keeps having flashbacks and dwelling on her past. And, as much as I want to make her more comfortable–to help her adjust–I know it’s hard to overcome stubbornness after a certain age.

Oops. Getting off track.

The point is, I’ve been keeping my distance.

That is, except for this morning, when I brought her a tray of lunch, and she was glaring at something through the window. Our janitor was in the hallway, mopping up a spill.  I’d barely made it to Mrs. Jones’ bedside before she demanded, “Is it true?”

“Is what true, dear?” I asked carefully.  Mrs. Jones pointed a shaking finger at the janitor and spat, “Is she a murderer?”

At first, I didn’t know what she was talking about, but the janitor looked up quickly.

“I heard you talking on the video-phone earlier,” Mrs. Jones called through the door. She was more worked up than I’ve ever seen her.  “You asked the other person if she would go with you for your Late Term Abortion this afternoon…I know what that means!”

Uh-oh. I thought. Not again.

“That’s your child!” Mrs. Jones yelled.  “Your baby! How could you even consider it? And how could everybody else just sit by and keep quiet while you kill your own baby?”

I needed to act quickly.

“STOP!” I insisted, grabbing touching Mrs. Jones’ arm. “I can’t let you abuse the staff any further, regardless of your mental state.”   I leaned down close to Mrs. Jones’ bed so I could see her eyes better, and suddenly I saw the child she used to be. The poor thing! She needed guidance!

She needed someone to explain how we do things now!  This time, I rubbed her hand as I spoke:

“It’s not our place to judge another person’s choice, Mrs. Jones. Nobody is perfect–but we certainly can make the world better if we try to be supportive and encouraging of others. We cannot possibly understand all the things going on in the janitor’s life that lead her to different decisions.”

But Mrs. Jones wouldn’t be soothed.

“It’s WRONG, Nurse. And no amount of debate or voting or time will ever change that.”

I reached for the intercom and said, “I’m going to need the Calm Cart in here, please.” Mrs. Jones started crying simultaneously.

“It’s so very, very wrong, “she sobbed.  “I’ve seen that poor little girl in here, running down the halls…I’d guess she’s, what, maybe 3-years-old?”

I was horrified and losing control of the situation quickly. I glanced at the janitor, expecting to see the same outrage and embarrassment–but, that janitor must be some kind of saint. Instead of being upset, the janitor actually smiled. SMILED, and tried to talk with the fit-throwing resident:

“Yes, my little one just turned three, Mrs. Jones,”  said the janitor. “And I think it’s wonderful that you care for my child so much!…”

Mrs. Jones had stopped sobbing, but she didn’t look at ease yet. She looked at the janitor with an eerie, blank silence. So the janitor continued the speech:

“But, you see, nobody loves my baby as much as me. And that’s why I have to be the one to make this choice. There’s simply no way I can continue supporting a little person, with my income, now that we know the child’s illness is terminal. And the doctor assures me that the procedure won’t be painful at all–certain more merciful than a slow death by disease!”

At that, Mrs. Jones snapped back into hysteria.

“You’re twisted!” she screamed, clawing at her blankets like she was going to jump out of the bed and attack. “You sound like you’re talking about putting down a dog! Nobody has the right to take a human life!”

Amazingly, the janitor didn’t even wince…just continued talking in an even, soothing voice. “When you were younger, Mrs. Jones, people didn’t know that human brains don’t finish forming for years after birth. But now we understand. It’s not fair to force somebody to be a parent, if something unforeseen happens before their child finishes developing. So, I assure you, I’m no murderer. After Birth Abortions are legal in every state now. I’m simply looking at two impossible roads and trying to choose the one that causes the least suffering in my family.”

At that point, the calming medication arrived, and I strapped Mrs. Jones to the bed rail before she could reach to choke the janitor. “Somebody help!” she was yelling, as I administered the shot. “Somebody get me out of here! This is wrong! WRONG!”

A few seconds later, Mrs. Jones slept.

The saintly janitor patted my shoulder and said, “Don’t lose any sleep over this.” She was smiling the whole time  “Really, I’m not upset at all!  You expect a little abuse when you’re dealing with the elderly. And sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder of how far we’ve come in the world…”

“It’s not really Mrs. Jones fault she comes across as bigoted,” the janitor told me. “she simply was raised in a different era…

Mrs. Jones is just old.”

For office use:

Incident #4461

Disciplinary Action:  None

Case Status:  Closed


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s