Old people say the darnedest things.
And given that 72 is the new 30 – in terms of post-caveman lifespan – maybe we should start listening.
Take Geoff, one of my mum’s nursing home neighbours.
The tea lady backed out of his room the other day as I was walking past.
She was really quite upset.
“Why didn’t someone tell me Geoff was dead?” she appealed.
He’s not, said a passing nurse.
“Well, why is he lying there with a sheet over his face?”
We all creep into his room. The nurse, doubting herself now, oh-so-gently pulls back the sheet and asked the waxen, completely motionless form: “Are you OK, Geoff?”
Sure, he replies with a cackle. Just practising!
He has a point. Isn’t that what life is … a very long dress rehearsal for the final performance, the very last reception.
Good nursing homes are surprisingly cheerful places.
The nurses have that droll, slightly black humour that comes with acceptance of the absurdity of a life that sets you up for death.
Still, I can’t understand how they can cope.
Change shifts and the lovely little bird-like Austrian woman who has been there since the home opened in 2009 isn’t there.
Ask, where’s Gertie? and when someone answers “gone” you know they don’t mean out for some Vienna cake.
Robert, one of the newbies in the nursing home, has a cute plush frog taped to the frame of his walker.
What’s the story with the frog, Rob?
“It’s to remind you all I could croak any time,” says he.
Ain’t that the truth.