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,"
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.