… on the geriatric investigation service


“Don’t forget the straw”

My new boyfriend carries his comb in his hair.


And I don’t mean one of those cool combs that looks great in a ‘fro, or recently Toni-permed hair.  I mean an eight inch regular black plastic comb, placed about an inch from the part in his beautiful hair, so his hands are free. For his walker.

Did I mention his beautiful hair was all silver-y?

He tells me that he carries his comb this way because combs are dangerously sharp and he doesn’t want any kids to pick it up and get hurt.

He let me feel it.

I told him it did feel a little sharp and that I thought he was very smart.

His stunning blue eyes twinkled, and he smiled and he put his comb back right away.

In his hair.

Then I headed down to Grampa’s room.

Wednesday was a tough day, but also a good day.

Grampa’s doctor wanted to admit him to the hospital for a series of tests, rather than have the tests done over the course of a couple of weeks, and we found a diagnostic unit that focuses on seasoned citizens and I am now in my element every single day.

I have dubbed this place, the Geriatric Investigation Service.

We are looking for the cause of Grampa’s recent, precipitous declines in mood and memory.  I’m big on answers, and I’ve got my fingers crossed.

These weeks have been very hard, as we’ve watched him change, and lose control. There have been many tears, and very few hours of sleep for us all.

But we’re hopeful.  We all want Grampa home, and safe.

Happy? Happy is a relative term for Old Yankee Men. We’ll take ‘normal’.

Which is also relative for Old Yankee Men. But I’m about to digress, so I’ll stop myself.

The admissions process was so smooth that Granny and I ended up in hysterics (the laughing kind, not the kind that would get us admitted too) in the ER, as we watched this man – one that had been an absolute nightmare at home for the past several weeks – charm the living daylights out of anyone who came near him.

“Can I help you take that off Mr. Dingle?” asked one young and pretty nurse, when Grampa was trying to remove his t-shirt.

“Well you sure can!” He said, winking at Granny and with a twinkle in his eye.

“How are you feeling today?” Asked a male nurse, talking very loud in the way some people overcompensate when they see an elderly person.

“Well… I DON”T KNOW!” Grampa returned, making his point that the man didn’t need to yell.  And then he dissolved into chuckles, and the nurse joined him in the chuckling and told Grampa that he’d made a good point.

And the Old Yankee Man, who absolutely hates hospitals, allowed his blood to be drawn, his urine to be caught, his cat to be scanned (okay, fine. He had a CAT scan), and lots of questions to be asked.

He answered every question with a smile and a self-depreciating joke.

Granny and I introduced him to everyone as Dr. Jekyll, and Grampa even agreed and laughed at that (and, no, he was not medicated).

When we all got to his room on Wednesday night, he said he was tired, and Granny and I set about getting him some warmed up blankets and moving the table over to where he could reach his important night stuff, you know, his glasses, some tissues.

I watched Granny, a woman I love who has been absolutely exhausted by this old man’s roller coaster emotions, including absolutely nasty words, over the past few weeks.

She was gently tucking the blankets around Grampa’s feet, saying things like, “How’s that feel Bobby? Good?”

And then I remembered something.

Every night, at home, Grampa leaves a glass of ginger ale, or a cold cup of tea, or bottle of water on his kitchen counter.  He does this because he gets up, many times during the night – sometimes even watching TV for an hour or so, and has a drink.

And every morning when I go in, there is a bendy straw in whatever he has left himself out to drink the night before.  Yep, even if it’s a bottle of water.

I slipped out of the room to find a nurse.

I returned with the booty, and Granny smiled, and took it.

She placed the bottle carefully on top of a couple of tissues, and moved it to the edge, so Grampa could get it easily.

She leaned over to a snuggled in Grampa, and said softly, “Bobby, there’s a bottle of water right by your head here.”

“Don’t forget the straw.” He said, in a sleepy voice. It had been a long day.

I know.

Touching stuff, and I was all weepy too. I’ll give you a sec to collect yourself.



I am telling you, to that point, it had been way too easy.

I know this Old Yankee Man very well.  I have thirty years of knowing and loving him under my belt at this point.

As we left on Wednesday night, I remember thinking “Buckle up.  This is going to be a wild ride.”

And I’m going to need all the bendy straws I can get.

Thanks for readin’.


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