By:Mary Ann Ellis
Older people have a reputation for being cantankerous, for being ogres that no one knows how to handle.
Quite a few maladies might explain this ornery condition, especially if a person has suddenly changed character. For a life-long grouch to remain grouchy in old age shocks no one; when a gentle soul totally changes character, we all jump to attention. Such was the case with my father. Daddy, the very epitome of patience and gentleness all my life, changed drastically in his last few years. He’d call me from the nursing home in Lumber City and scream at me, although I’d never before heard him raise his voice. Alzheimers was screaming, not my beloved father. He spent his last years where he could get the care we could not provide. My sister and I visited him almost daily, making sure he never became one of the abandoned.
Most of the older people I know are beautiful. I can still see my Grandmother Nichols. She never cut her hair and every morning after brushing those beautiful white tresses, she pulled them back into a tight bun, carefully pinned for safe keeping. She spent her last years in blindness because she was afraid to have the cataracts removed from her eyes, but she was a gentle soul to her last day. Outspoken, mind you, but nothing’s wrong with that. As a rule, the elderly have lost their youth, not their brains.
One of the dearest older ladies I’ve ever encountered in my lifetime was a neighbor in Augusta. She loved people, especially children, and doted on Calvin, my oldest son, who was a baby at the time. She’d come over and ask to hold him for a while. Later on as we became friends, she’d tap on my door in the wee hours if she heard him crying.
“Honey, let me take him,” she’d whisper. “I’ll rock him back to sleep. You have to go to work in the morning.”