The Setting: A nursing home in Queens/very late afternoon, early evening New Year's Eve.
The day had been a nice one, as December days go gorgeous. The weather somewhere in the high 40's so we took to the yard for some last pre-winter outdoor work. I had mentioned to Scissors that I wanted to visit Grandpa, his stepdad, who since this past April resides in a nursing home.
The circumstances that led up to his incarceration included his roaming the streets in the wee hours leaving the front door wide open. Actually he had taken to hanging out at a nearby 7-11 convenience store as an unpaid employee on their overnight shift. According to him, he was the store manager. He would give their home telephone number out and my mother-in-law would field subsequent calls about apartments for rent that did not exist. He has Parkinsons with Alzheimer's symptoms. While at home, he refused medication and by the time of his first mini-stroke which started his real downfall and hospitalization, he would walk in a completely stooped posture. It was sad to see. Scissors had gotten more than one phone call to come quickly as he had fallen and was unable to get himself back up. Considering Scissors is 5'9" on a tall day and Grandpa is 6'0" on a short one, this was not always an easy task.
He didn't go down easily and was not at all happy about being placed in the facility. Honestly - who would? But he had gotten so bad at home with the roaming and refusal to take medicine that his health was on a downward spiral. Months later, he still talks of coming home although not quite as vociferously, and has made friends, especially a new friend - Sally.
As my MIL announced in the car one day, "Sam (not the name we know him by but his "American" name) has a girlfriend". She said this with a wry look on her face, quickly followed up with "not that I care about that, just that it makes a fool of me". Theirs was always a marriage of convenience, or judging by the way she yelled at Sam, inconvenience. But still, it's sad. They do love each other in their own way. I offered gently, "well you can't really hold him accountable, he's not really in his normal frame of mind" (normal being a relative term as Grandpa always sort of reminded me of Chauncey Gardner in Being There).
So in we came last night, my little family to visit Grandpa. We found him in the dining room with Sally and another woman at their table. Sally seemed sweet and in true Jewish Grandmother form, tried to figure out what of their non-eaten dinner they could give the kids. Tali would have no part of it, but Julian happily complied and was lapping up chocolate pudding faster than you could say "medication time".
The dining room slowly cleared and we were the last ones along with another gentleman introduced only as "an opera singer" as he joined us, left in the room. When Julian heard opera singer, he took center stage and began singing in operatic fine form "I sing OP-E-RAAAA" to the delight of Sam, Sally and Opera Man. Then he began a dance to go along with it. Grandpa (still in fine voice) took to singing his repertoire of Jewish songs capped of with Those Were the Days. Sally smiled and Opera Man even sang along a bit. We joked about having our own New Year's Eve party and we were actually having a nice time. Julian took to speaking in a clipped Cary Grantesque voice (which Tali refers to as his Jewish Santa voice - inside joke) peppering his speech with "Yess darling's" which amused them to no end.
Opera Man excused himself wishing us a Happy and Healthy New Year as he was retiring for the night. We decided to take the elevator downstairs to a sitting room with a huge aquarium and aviary with finches flitting about. Sally seemed to regress into a childlike behavior when the nurse scolded her for standing as she had fallen recently and was not allowed to be out of her wheelchair just yet. When we went back by the Nurse's Station, and pressed for the elevator I asked if Sally could join us and the nurses said yes. Her face lit up as I wheeled her along with us. The party continued and then it was getting a little late so we wheeled them back to the elevator with Tali and Julian "helping" Grandpa with his walker.
On the loudspeaker some piped in music played Billy Joel's "a bottle of red, a bottle of white...I'll meet you any time you want in our Italian Restaurant".
The elevator doors shut and we headed for the car.