Yesterday afternoon I went to visit my 84-year-old great aunt Virginia with plans to open Christmas presents and show her pictures of my life back in California. Instead, I found myself surrounded by two dozen octogenarians in wheel chairs and playing the unexpected role of key bell ringer in a holiday concert at an adult rehab facility.
I will admit, at first I felt slightly embarrassed and awkward participating in a holiday sing along at an elderly rest home while listening to an art therapist recap the glory days of Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole. But as I held Aunt Vee’s hand I looked around I saw that most of the other patients didn’t have any other visitors. Most looked frail and arthritic. Many had tubes stemming from their noses and ears. I realized that this concert was the highlight of their day. So I got over myself and my discomfort and showed Aunt Vee how to ring the bells properly.
The rest of the concert turned out to be pretty fun. Old people are a pretty lively bunch. The man on my right kept yelling out answers to the therapist’s questions and ended up hitting on her at the end of the show. After the concert my Aunt Vee couldn’t wait to show me her room and tiny Christmas tree. Every nurse we passed in the hallway stopped to say hello to her. Aunt Vee was proud to show off her family and inquired how each of them were doing. In her room we had a bit more privacy and I was finally able to get the dirt on the happenings at the rehab facility. I looked through her Christmas cards and saw one signed “from a friend.”
ME:Who’s ‘a friend’? Is that one of your boyfriends Vee?
VEE: [looking sheepish] I don’t know.
She wouldn’t elaborate any more than that. The thing with old people is you can never be certain when they are conveniently lying to you and when they just don’t remember. I think she knows who the card is from and isn’t telling us. Because she had four different bouquets of flowers and I could only find cards for two.
ME: [looking at the activity schedule.] Have you been going to church in the mornings?
VEE: I watch it on TV.
ME: But Vee you could meet a boy there. Cute boys go to church. You should just go downstairs to check out who is there.
VEE: I’ve already been there. They are all old. I am not that hard up.
ME:[after laughing hysterically.] Ok. But maybe one of them will bring an attractive young nephew one day. Like you did today. You should go just to check out the fresh meat.
VEE: I’ll think about it.
Lesson#1: Never give up on finding love. No matter how old you are. But never lower your standards either.
While taping pictures and Christmas cards to her wall, Aunt Vee asked my cousin about the BC football team and this Sunday’s Patriots game.
VEE: I never miss a game.
ME: I know why. You are checking out the players and see which ones have cute legs.
VEE: [Stops smiling. Folds her hands in her lap.] It would be a lie if I said otherwise.
Lesson #2: Looks are important. They can keep you interested for life.
During our visit I showed her pictures from my sister’s wedding this summer. She had lots of questions about California and my own dating life.
VEE: I would like to go to another wedding.
ME:I will see what I can do. [trying to change the subject.] How are your nurses here?
VEE: [Leans in close and whispers.] I have two male nurses.
ME: [Whispering back.] Are they attractive?
VEE: [Looks around just in case. Continues.] Yes, but they are young.
ME: That’s ok. Do you flirt with them?
VEE: I do. Why not? It doesn’t cost a thing.
Lesson #3: Age doesn’t matter when it comes to love.