Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Loner

They call him Whitie. 
He has a full head of fluffy white hair.

I had seen him around. 
He did not say much. 
Sometimes, he would acknowledge your "Good Morning." Sometimes, he would give you a half-hearted smile. Sometimes, he would just look at you. 
Perhaps he did not hear my greeting.

That morning, I went to the dining room for lunch. John, the dining room manager, asked me if Whitie could sit with me. "Sure," I said.

Whitie sat down, and ordered his meal.

Since I am supposed to make conversation with anyone eating with me, I started by introducing myself and asked him how long had he been at the Conservatory.

He said, "Six months."
"How do you like it here?" I asked him.
"It's terrible," he said.
I was taken aback.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
" My son wants to mange my life. He sold my house. He put me on an airplane and sent me here," he said.

I did not know what to say.

I was thinking that I was one of the lucky ones because I made my own choice of coming to this senior living place. I would resent it if my daughters did the same to me.

I waited a minute or two. trying to collect my wits.

"I was a ski instructor," he said.

"I had ten acres of land and a big house. I miss sitting on my front porch watching the deer go by,"
he  continued.

I forced myself to make a smile.

"I understand." I said.

Did I really?

"I hate it here," he said again.
"Where does your son live?' I asked.
"A mile from here,"he said.

"He comes to see me once a month," he said.
Obviously, he did not think that was often enough. 

"How many children do you have?" I asked.
"Three," he said.
"Where do they live?" I asked.
He looked at me and said,
"My daughter came to see me once . . ."

I was silent.

"It will get better,"I said to him. A white lie?

"Thank you for talking to me,"he said and smiled.

I am going to make a point of greeting him and talking to him. I hope that I can make his life a little more bearable for him.

I wonder how many "Whities" are in this place.

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