Sunday, September 30, 2007

beware of 1st impressions

i rarely take mom to happy hour at VT. i think i've been twice. for one thing, the entertainment is ludicrous. no, wait...that's not why, is it? i kinda LIKE ludicrous...no, it's really because i know it is one of the few events i can count on someone else to take her to. it's a sort of freebie for us both, in a sense.

but this past friday i decided to drop in. i went directly to the downstairs dining hall. huh? no Mary Anne? so i go upstairs and find her in her room.

"would you like to go to happy hour, mom?"
"happy hour? oh, is that today?"

the reason no one took her is beside the point. the real point is, just a few weeks ago she would have been aware of, and been eagerly anticipating, this weekly diversion. daily contact does not inure me from occasional surprise at how rapidly she changes these days. but enough of melancholy.
there's still a boatload of good stuff. sometimes you just have to stumble upon it in spite of yourself.




after the jump i'll explain the title of this post and these seemingly incongruous pictures...


...the entertainer was a particularly bad elvis impersonator. unfortunately, i didn't have my camera, so you'll have to take my word for it. he was somewhat like a cross between Don Knotts and Randy Quaid (aka cousin eddie.)
...in an Elvis suit.

to top it off he was an excruciatingly bad vocalist. he couldn't get anywhere near the high notes. he sure couldn't hit the low ones. his mid-range was creaky and crackly and, well, it was just pretty much embarrassing to listen to him. mom and i looked at each other and made exaggerated faces. hahahahaha.

i cringed. i squirmed.
i even had a margarita with mom. come to think of it, maybe it was the margarita? but no...

after watching this "no talent moron" walk around the room during songs for awhile, flirting with and kissing the old ladies, he won me over. he was genuine. he loved what he did, he loved them and they loved him back. he made them, each of them, feel special.

after passing mom by for several songs he finally knelt in front of her, took her hand and sang a few lines. i don't remember the song, but i remember the lady next to me, Addy, whispering to me, "look at her. she's so serious. Mary Anne's not gonna like this..."

but she did. when he kissed her on the cheek i whispered back, "does that grin on her face surprise you?"

Addy had a tear in her eye.

and that's not all. there's a woman from mom's floor who walks around all day every day with a tiny, baby doll in her arms. she never says anything. she never has visitors. not that i see.
well, Ms. Olita's son was there with her! and she did not have her plastic doll in swaddling. what's more, when *elvis* got to her she actually spoke to him and smiled and kissed him back. afterwards i introduced myself to the son and he had a tear in his eye as we visited. i even think he'll come back more often.

and That's not all, either.
elvis went 30 minutes over the allotted time because Everyone was having so much fun. the staff cleaned up around us and let the crazy-bad elvis go on. and on. i've been to dozens of events like this at VT before and i've seen them cut off singers, book reviewers, fellow staff members and just whoever. hey, they have schedules to keep. . . but not this time. they knew...

the last song was a request from Earl. (a song i consider to be the saddest ballad ever written.) Earl is probably 90 years old and very frail looking. i don't know him well, but was moved to tears myself listening to him sing.
the crooner stuck the mike in his face. his request, The Tennessee Waltz, was tinnily playing on the boom box in the background.
i'm here to tell you Earl can flat out SING! i mean he can frank sinatra sing.
(if you ever have a chance to hear Eva Cassidy's version, do not pass go. just do it. i swear Earl was almost as good.)


i really do wish i'd had my camera. and a tape recorder, too. but i did leave with a pleasant memory and a valuable reminder to take 1st impressions with a grain of salt.

even a bad elvis is sometimes more than the sum his parts.

14 comments:

isis said...

I am glad to hear they has some fun, smiles and kisses,
as my Aunt always says,"Old age is not for sissys".
I still wish I had that magic wand.

cornbread hell said...

isis, i'm so glad you read this. i wish you coulda heard Earl sing the tennessee waltz. you would've especially appreciated his old timey voice. it was like listening to one of your classic recordings.

Denise said...

:-)

:: gina :: said...

this is my favorite post. my friend just passed away in a nursing home. your post me me a little nostalgic, she was the one with the baby doll in her arms. her memory was really bad lately, she didn't recognize anyone anymore. thanks for sharing. i'm glad you posted it. i feel better now. funny how you can touch people's lives without knowing.

cornbread hell said...

i'm glad to know it made you feel better. thanks for letting me know.

it's getting harder watching mom's memory slip away. it seems to be progressing faster these days. it's really very sad.

flintysooner said...

That's a very good post.

cornbread hell said...

thank you, sir. i realized as i was responding to the last comment that i probably write these things as a defense against depression about how mom's really doing. you've been there. i bet you know what i mean.

how are YOU doing?

josephine terese said...

what's grandmommy's address? do they bring her her mail these days? i want to send her a card...

cornbread hell said...

thanks, josephine!! i'll email it to you.

i check her mail every day. *funny* thing is, every time i hand her mail she says one of 2 things..."where is my mailbox?"
or "it's a good thing you check my mail. i never do. i don't even know where it is."

of course, i show it to her once or twice a week.

she loves getting cards.

(btw, check the link at the top of my sidebar. i've guest blogged the nyt puzzle for "madness..." last tue/wed and this tue/wed. while she and her husband are in hawaii.
tonight's my last. it's been a hoot.

in case you wonder about all the ava gardner pics i drop in, she uses an ava pic as her avatar.)

Sue said...

I found your blog because I wanted to see who the ditzy guy was doing Linda's NYT puzzle blog. (You can be VERY funny.)

Just keep this always in mind -- your mom is very lucky to have you. I spent very difficult years with both my mom and dad before each succumbed to a peaceful death. And now I'm getting kinda old myself! Jeez, it happens.

cornbread hell said...

hey, sue. who you callin' ditzy? i'm at least as sane as...someone.

anyway, thanks for the comment. (i think.)

Chris said...

I remember a couple of Christmas's ago, I was wheeling Mom through the mall during our annual (and what would be the last) Christmas shopping trip. Mom looked so pretty in her little black coat and hat with the snowflake pin. Like something out of a fashion magazine.

The mall Santa was walking swiftly past us when he noticed Mom in her chair. He bent down and asked if she had been a good girl this year and she said she was trying to be. She just had this amazing smile on her face, so child-like. He then took her hands in his and just very sincerely told her to please have a Merry Christmas and he would see her on Christmas Eve. She said "oh yes Santa, I will! You too! And for those few moments, while she could remember it, it made her whole holiday season.

Bless you mom and you as you walk through this journey with her. It's just not easy and it sucks on so many levels. Take care.

Chris said...

I remember a couple of Christmas's ago, I was wheeling Mom through the mall during our annual (and what would be the last) Christmas shopping trip. Mom looked so pretty in her little black coat and hat with the snowflake pin. Like something out of a fashion magazine.

The mall Santa was walking swiftly past us when he noticed Mom in her chair. He bent down and asked if she had been a good girl this year and she said she was trying to be. She just had this amazing smile on her face, so child-like. He then took her hands in his and just very sincerely told her to please have a Merry Christmas and he would see her on Christmas Eve. She said "oh yes Santa, I will! You too! And for those few moments, while she could remember it, it made her whole holiday season.

Bless you mom and you as you walk through this journey with her. It's just not easy and it sucks on so many levels. Take care.

cornbread hell said...

thanks for sharing that story, chris. i see it coming, but i'm not really prepared. still, it helps to know i'm not alone.

i once knew a *professional* santa. he was much like the one your mom met. sincere, plain ole human kindness seems to be the best medicine. for all of us.