Backstage Writers – Think Hope Do


Postmodern Challenges – Defining Impact

Why I Go Back

Colette wonders why I keep coming back.

“You make me laugh,” I say.

“Don’t let me be selfish. Tell me about you,” she says.

Somehow we get started. I speak loudly and distinctly and choose my words carefully. My accent leads to misunderstandings. She soon takes over the story-telling.

Colette says she’s looking for work. I wonder why. She’s 93 and well-worn by the kilometers she’s put on her feet. She’s spent years walking the art galleries of Paris, visiting artists in their studios. She’s written volumes about these talented individuals she’s admired and cherished so selflessly.

“Are you bored?” I ask. I’d be bored living in a home full of people too deaf and confused for conversation, a sterile-looking place with a revolving door staff and only one or two employees who take time to listen.

“You visit Colette because she absolves your guilt, is that it?” I’ve heard all the theories. The truth is I visit Colette because she uplifts me. And sometimes I get her to smile. Seeing Colette smile is worth the pee on the floor I have to wipe up, the pants that need pulling up, and the moments of panic because the assault that happened 40 years ago has just resurfaced. “It’s OK, Colette! They’re gone. I’m here.” When Colette smiles, you get gratitude and reassurance. “You’re all right, kid.” You get contentment. She’s letting herself go. She’s letting you see her let go.

I repeat my question to Colette. “Why do you want to work?”

“So I can keep learning things,” she says.

We’re back to the beginning, to the simplest of definitions. It is our duty to understand.

Her final question is always the same. “You will remember to come back, won’t you?”

My answer is always the same. “How can I forget? You make me laugh.”

Category: Seniors

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5 Responses

  1. Zacharie says:

    I would never have thought that visiting an elderly could be absolving one’s guilt! Well… I am not a psychoanalyst, but thinking about it, the physical act of pulling up Colette’s pants might be interpreted as a Freudian slip.

  2. Marie says:

    Visiting the old people’s home is worth a lot of laughs. If you don’t laugh you’ll cry. If the “inmates” knew what they were doing they wouldn’t be housed there. I’ve told my husband if I get senile just shoot me. I don’t want to live that way.

  3. Robert says:

    It is painful to think about. I wish we lived in a world that cared a bit more. There are so many holes where we bury people and the past so we don’t have to care or feel guilty.

  4. Backontrail says:

    Seeing the world through another’s eyes. A great gift. Let us hear more from Colette. Thanks

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If you want to mess up someone’s life, steal his post-its

Nothing is set in stone – Changes as they happen on Center Stage

-I’m not sitting here, Fran!

-Oh Tod.

-Don’t start that, Fran.

-He did say, “Center Stage.”

-Why us?

-We’re props, Tod.

-Why’d he choose us, Fran? We’re not the only Americans. We weren’t first in line. Is it my weight? Is it your-

-He looked so pleased to put us here.

-And so we’re just going to sit here ‘cause “Monsieur” looked pleased? Are you nuts, Fran?

-Oh, Tod. You wanted something contemporary… You like being on stage.

-I can’t even talk to you.

-Don’t touch them!

-There’s got to be a back door. Don’t want to step over your “Monsieur”. Why’s he standing guard like that?

-Tod, you never touch the curtains in a theatre.

-Why the hell not? Let me guess, because theatre is like life? Is that it, Fran? You don’t turn your back on anybody, and you don’t touch his curtains? You’re pathetic, Fran!

-Sit down, Tod.

-I don’t like that tone, Fran.

-What tone?

-That sweet little voice of yours! I hate it when you get all nice. I know what you’re thinking.

-If you don’t want to-

-Stop whispering, Fran!

-If you don’t want to be part of the spectacle, sit down and try to act-

-Act how?

-Now is not the time.

-Come on, Fran, how should I act?

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