On the way to visit Kurt's mom in a long term care facility, the boys and I had a great talk. While they love seeing Grammy, they had confessed that some of the residents give them 'the freak'. We talked about what can happen to people when they get old. They agreed that people sometimes cannot help they way they act or appear. They both promised to be kind even if they were uncomfortable.
We had Addis (our black lab) with us to visit and the boys took turns holding his leash as we walked to Grammy's room. The residents in the hallway smiled as they watched the boys and the dog. The boys made eye contact and smiled back. I was feeling pretty darn proud of them.
And then Jemberu said, "Whoa! That guy has food all over his shirt!"
Indeed, one of the residents looked as though he had had some trouble getting his blueberry cobbler to his mouth.
I quietly told Jemberu to hush. The look I gave him told him that I meant business.
In an attempt to defend himself, he loudly said, "Don't worry, that guy is probably death."
I held his arm, looked into his eyes and said, "What did you say?" in a ferocious whisper
"Death! Death! We talked about it in the car! When you get old you get DEATH!" he replied loudly
"Deaf, the word is deaf and let's hope your right."
In her room, Grammy and I sat chatting while the boys took turns using her walker. They like pretending to be elderly and hope that someday she will get a wheelchair they can play on.
I was watching Jemby's impression of being old. He shuffled his feet and said in a shaky voice, "Watch out Sonny boy! I can't see or hear because I am SO OLD!" (Blind and death)
I was so engrossed with his elderly act that I didn't notice that Mikias and Addis were missing. When I finally found them, Mikias was going from resident to resident with Addis. As soon as anyone took notice of the dog, he would bring Addis over to greet them.
"Well look at that!" Mikias was saying with his arm around a man in a wheelchair, "He really likes you!"
I watched Mikias make the rounds with the dog. Always telling the person patting Addis how much the dog really likes him or her. He and Addis looked completely at home, as though they spend time with the elderly everyday. I watched, amazed at how easy compassion and empathy are for Mikias. I was also impressed with Addis. He doesn't even know how to play fetch (when I throw the ball he just looks up at me as if to say "good throw!") but he sure knows how to give love.
At this point I remembered Jemby back in Grammy's room. I feared he would take his elderly act on the road. I grabbed Mikias and Addis, zipped back to Grammy's room to wrap up our visit.
As we drove home, the boys talked about how much fun they had. Mikias asked when we could go back. Jemby asked if we could get a walker. Addis just gazed at me and I realized that fetch was totally overrated. I have the best dog and the best boys in the world.