Old and Full of Attitude

July 19, 2011

The fields of new sprouted corn were covered in golden light streaming through a hole in the dark black sky after a colossal storm. Several trees on the property were damaged by the strong winds. Nature had done its own pruning and the trees that could bend with the wind lost a few leaves and branches.  Others, old and rigid or whose roots were not deep, lost limbs or were uprooted and exposed and some would perish.

She was old and full of attitude. The caregivers were afraid of her demeanor and she always had a bone to pick. Anyone that didn’t do as she planned was told to get the f…k out of her room. People were convinced she loved her misery and nothing could be done about her. She had few visitors, some family at times, and she was more pleasant when they were around. I was called in to see her as she was very depressed and refused her medication.

I knocked and entered the room slowly. She was propped up in her bed and was moaning about something.

What do you want?

Hi, my name is Brian or do you want me to fuck off and get out of your room now?
Or we can chat a bit!

From the corner of her mouth came a little smile. Then she said:

Well for a fat guy you’re not so bad looking.

Well for an old battleaxe your eyesight’s not bad!

(This time she gave a more of a smile.)

You’re not a goddamn doctor are you?

No! I couldn’t live with myself if I was! I would be depressing like you.

I’m not taking their pills and you can go tell that doctor he knows where he can stick’em.

GOOD for you! I don’t think you need any pills either.

(At this time the nurse shot me a looks as if to say “What the hell are you doing?” I just ignored her and kept going.)

I’m not depressed! They just want me on pills so I don’t bug them! So I’m not a pain in the ass!

You, a pain in the ass? Come on, a sweet old lady like you?

You called me a battleaxe!

Yes I did! Are you?

Damn right!

So why are you choosing to be so miserable?

I not choosing this! They just piss me off.

Well I see that! Is there ever a time here when you’re not pissed off?


Not even when with your with friends, doing activities?

What are you anyway? A social worker?

Sure! I’m whatever you make me into!

What kind of smartass comment is that! I don’t have to talk to you!

You’re right, you don’t! But I’m really enjoying it. It is not often I get to talk to someone like you.

What’s that supposed to mean?

Well how old are you?


Wow! Ninety-four and you have more piss and vinegar you than most teenagers!

Yeah, so what!

Well is it working for you!

What’s that supposed to mean. ?

Well is it getting you what you want? It sure seems to me it is, I may be wrong.

What am I getting from what? Why don’t you speak bloody English!
I’m getting along fine! Not your business anyway.

Well that’s why they asked me to come and talk with you.  So that’s how I get paid.

For talking to people! Why don’t you get a real job?

I love my job, I told you that I get to talk to people like you, you’re ninety-four, you’re wise… Don’t you believe in talking to the wise? Don’t you think your generation could teach this generation a lot of valuable things?

Yeah, they won’t listen anyway!

Who wouldn’t listen to you? I’m sure you got a lot of wisdom to share!

For one, my grandson’s sons. Those little ungrateful bastards.

Wow! You’re really upset at them!

I damn well should be!

So why? What did they do?

They went and sold a piece of their farm, a family farm that we have had for generations.

How long ago was it that they did that?

About five years ago.

And you’re still choosing to be angry with them?

Damn right. That farm was in my family forever!

So it’s been gone now five years, and do you ever see your grandsons?

No, they only come at Christmas now!

So what happened?

They sold the farm! Are you goddamn deaf?

That I know but did they ever visit more?

Yeah they did until I found out they sold the farm to their sister. So now there is a new name on that barn.

Okay, so let me get this. You are unhappy with your grandsons and you have a grand daughter too and she is family, is she not?

Yes but she doesn’t have our family name. Are you stupid?

Yes I guess I am! Do you ever see her?

Yes she comes in once every couple months.

Were you ever close to her? Or your grandsons?

Well of course I was! That’s why this is so terrible.

What’s terrible?

That everyone has just forgotten me.

So you’re lonely?

Yes I guess I am! Who gives a damn anyway!

I do!

Why the hell should you, or are you just as lonely as I am?

I think you’re right! As I’m talking to you I feel lonely and sad for your situation!

I don’t need your pity!

I’m not giving it! I’m sad because a wise person like you can’t see how she is creating her own misery.

And how am I doing that?

Do you love your grandsons and your granddaughter?

Well of course I do!

So tell me: What are you doing to get close to them?

Nothing – I shouldn’t have to!

Come on – when you we their age, would you want to be around a person as miserable as you?

You’re a little bastard! You prick!

Yes that’s part of me too.  I am trying to help you not be so lonely! And I think you can see that and that is why you’re angering at me!

Oh speak English for Christ sake!

You said you have had visits with your grandchildren and something went sour in your relationship with them. What changed?

They sold that piece of the farm!

I know that but when they visited what did you talk about with them, when this went sour?

Hell I don’t know!

When did you see them last?

At Christmas!

Yes, what happened?

We had a huge fight!

And what happened?

I don’t remember!

Come on I know you do! How much time have you spent in the last five years criticizing them for selling the farm and other things?

A lot!

Okay, thanks for being honest! And if you could get along better with them, how do you think your life would be different?

Well, they would come and see me more!

How would you feel about that!

Better I guess, but they sold that farm!

Yes to your granddaughter and her husband. Aren’t they family?


So what is it then!

She shouldn’t have married him!

Oh! Who should she have married?

The other guy! He was so nice!

So would you want your daughter married to someone you loved or someone she loved?

I’m not a dumb broad. I get it!

Get what?

Marry for love!

Right! So how many times did you tell her she should have married the other guy?

A few times!

And when you did, she felt closer to you? Or did she disconnect by seeing you less!

By seeing me less!

Good for her. She’s wise like her grandmother!

What is that supposed to mean?

If your grandmother was criticizing you about your choice of men would you want to be around her?

She did!!!

Did you listen to her?

No! I hated her!

So do you want to be hated?

No I guess not!

So how may years do you think you could live yet?

I don’t know … one, maybe two.

Well how do you want to me remembered?  Miserable and a battleaxe?

No! I just don’t know where to begin!

How about the next time I come in we write a letter together and I’ll see they all get a copy!

Oh! Oh! Would you do that for me?

Only if there is no more battleaxe language, just connecting language. Do you think you can do that?

Yes, I could write a good letter in my day!

I’m sure you can – you’re a wise women! I will be back in two days, is that okay?

Yes thank you!

You’re welcome!

Coach bri