Back to the Big House

Once again, we dismantled Gen's independent life as she moved back to the Big House at Farnham Manor.

Moving messThe days spent packing are a blur to me now. I think I had just retired. Ted and I planned a real-estate-search trip to New Mexico a couple of days before the end of the month, when Gen's apartment had to be cleared out. I remember feeling outraged that, once again, a crisis in Gen's life fell into my lap at the most inconvenient time. I rebelled. I did not change our travel plans, but I did what I could at the apartment and turned the rest over to Becky.

I'm not sure what Becky expected to find when she and Robert arrived to finish the job, but what she found wasn't what she expected. Becky was miffed at me for leaving so much to be done. My thought when Becky expressed her feelings was that she didn't realize how much Ted and I had disposed of, but I was on the road by then and my thoughts were hundreds of miles away from Gen and her interminable problems.

I do apologize to Becky, in any case. I understand how she felt. I had spent the previous 15 years in her shoes.

Gen's new room in the Big House was occupied by two other women. One of them was so far gone that she never left her bed except with assistance and a wheelchair. She was given to smiling ever so sweetly, taking the hand of a visitor and patting it gently, and then scowling as she grasped and bit—hard—the extended hand. She needed a sign that said something like "BEWARE. SHE BITES" to warn the unsuspecting visitor.

The Biting Lady soon went on to her reward and a Smurf took her place. The Smurf was so-called because she was tiny and always wore a blue work-out suit. She was perhaps the most annoying woman in the Big House because she wouldn't shut up. She was also compulsive about hand-washing and wouldn't touch anything or anybody (no danger of bites from this one). She followed Gen and me around the halls, telling us all about her visitors, her house, when she was going home, what she had for lunch, and her musical abilities. Because she was so active, there was no getting away from her, but I discovered that if we went into the lounge, where a piano stood against a wall, we could get rid of her by asking her to play for us, she being so musical and all. She would assume a panicked expression, tuck her hands into her sleeves, and leave the room, the better not to touch anything, my dear.