Tuesday, 16 June 2015
A little while ago...
The Hen Men from meerkatfilms on Vimeo.
I was driving to work, it was rainy and cold and the bleakest of bleak days.
It was an ordinary day - until I spotted an elderly man, leaning hard on a sign post, waving. I thought his car must have broken down, so I slowed right down, drove on, and then continued thinking about him. I quickly did a block, came back, pressed my hazard lights on and pulled over to him. Winding down the window my mind was racing:
Who was this man?
Why did he have dirt on his back? Leaves?
Where was he heading?
And why had no one else stopped?
In the moments it took me to decide to drive back to him, I had thought - if this was my grandfather, or my father, I would hope someone would pull over and help.
I called out and we had a conversation - from which I determined that maybe he had dementia.
My beautiful grandmother had lived with dementia. I was familiar with what dementia does to the mind and the behaviour of those with dementia.
I asked him if he had any money - to which he told me he had fifty cents. He wanted me to take him to the other side of the city to visit a friend, of whose address he couldn't recall.
All the time, my mind was travelling so many different ways, and I didn't know the best way to look after this man. If I picked him up, I wouldn't know what would happen. I didn't know his history, he wasn't hostile, but I didn't know anything about him. I gave him my umbrella, told him I wasn't able to give him a lift - and then hooted up to the local nursing home, pulled up, ran in and breathlessly asked if they were missing a man.
They were, and so I drove two staff down the long road, searching for that man.
I knew what he was wearing, knew his stature, knew his accent - but in the very short time it had taken me to get back - he was gone.
I then decided we would go and search the local train station.
Thankfully, he was there. Mercifully. Happily. Amazingly.
He gave me a huge hug (I was worried he was going to be mad I had thwarted his getaway), and then we parted ways.
I was happy to be able to take him back to a safe place - I had had thoughts of him walking away into the city, by himself with just fifty cents, and no recollection of where he was going or where he was from.
Which brought me back to The Hen Men.
Nursing homes are hard places - for everyone. Isn't this a beautiful and simple way to add meaning and value to someone in a possibly dark and lonely place?