Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Poignant Moment

During lunch today I went for a run on the Centennial Trail. As I neared Mission Park I saw an elderly couple, a woman riding an electric scooter chair and a man carrying a walker. It looked like he was going to help her out of the chair so she could use the walker. They had their backs to me as I passed them by.

I turned around at the park and headed back. Approaching the couple I recognized the woman. As a child I lived a few houses away from her. Since returning to Spokane 13 years ago I had seen her a few times, once when I attended her 80th birthday party. Man, she loved to dance the polka and did so unlike anyone I'd seen at that age. I hadn't seen her for about four years so I stopped to say hi.

I addressed her by her name and as she looked at me with a fierce intensity that told me she was trying to figure out who I was. I told her my name and my mom's name and a big smile of recognition broke out. We chatted for a while and in between familiar subjects she asked questions like, Do you go to school here? Are you walking home? I politely told her what I was doing. She was now 89 and she'd had a stroke recently. Not only did it affect her mobility but she also had a hard time remembering things. Both she and her husband filled me in on what it was like to live in the nearby assisted living home. It's all old people. She didn't like socializing with people there because she never remembered what they told her. It is very frustrating for her.

Then she started asking me some of the same questions about my family she had asked before. I answered as if I was doing so for the first time and she expressed the same emotions as before. Both I and her husband smiled back at her, letting her enjoy the moment. But his eyes were unable to conceal the sadness at this reminder that the woman he loved was ever so slowly slipping away.

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