I was driving around, looking for the nursing home. I drove back roads until I got lost among a tangle of red dirt highways. I called my friend Randall for directions since his grandmother lives at the retirement facility.
“It’s easy to find,” said Randall. “Just roll down your window and follow the Elvis music.”
I eventually came to a rural place with a screened-in porch and a few old guys reclining out front, doing their part in reducing the gnat population.
The nurse was expecting me. She buzzed me in, gave me a name tag, pointed me to the cafeteria, and told me the cafe was serving BLTs today.
“But don’t eat the sweet potato fries,” the nurse said. “They’re a little freezer burnt.”
I was immediately confronted with a cafeteria full of blue hair, hearing aids, short-sleeved plaid shirts, and pearl earrings. In other words, Heaven.
“More like heaven’s waiting room,” remarked one old timer.
I have long been afflicted with what my mother calls “geriatric-itis.” My life’s ambition is to become an old man.
used to take me to visit my granddaddy’s nursing home as a boy. Upon entering, I would toddle into the “hearth room” toward the wheelchairs that were parked around a console television broadcasting “Gunsmoke.”
I would introduce myself with my famous line: “Can you tell me a story?”
Mama says the old folks would gather around me like chickens around a junebug. It was only a matter of time before they began fighting over who got to fuzz my hair.
So I got my BLT and sat beside an old man with a bald head, and his wife, who wore a sweater even though it was hotter than Hades outside.
I gave the greeting. I asked for a story.
The old man laughed while eating from his ice cream cup. “Kinda story you wanna hear?”
His wife chimed in. “Tell him…