I've always had a fondness for your stereotypical mean old person. Wether it is a man whose scowl can wilt flowers or an elderly woman with a vocabulary that parallels with a sailor, I think it's hilarious. That may make me sound unkind so I'll explain. In La Granha near the medical center in Tegucigalpa there in a nursing home that caters to the less fortunate abuelos. They either have no family and can afford to pay for their stay or they have family member who can't (or won't) take care of them. Latrica is a toothless, half deaf, surly 78 year young woman with eyes so dialated you would think she was drugged... She might have been. My first visit consisted of her telling me I was going to take her upstairs to her room because our program gave her "pain in her head." After that I was hooked. Wether she wanted to or not she had just made a friend. I went back this time with a plan. Instead of helping her up I was just going to play the gringa card and pretend I didn't understand what she was saying. That way I could just sit tight beside her and she would have to listen to the devotional. Flawless plan. "No hablo español" works everytime.
At the door we were met by Rena, a retired professor at the university who we later learned had been "dropped off" by her son and forgotten. She told use about all of her world riches: her 3 houses, nice clothes and 20 thousand dollars she had in the bank. She seemed happy enough as I loosely translated her story to those around us. After we passed Rena I saw my target and grabbed the seat across from her. Our director invited her to come sit with everyone and sing and on cue she said "you all are crazy!" Soon the seat next to her opened up and I saw my opportunity. No sooner had I sat down she saw her opportunity to grab my arm and gesture up the stairs. I ignored her, got up and went to sing giving her the "not this time signal." I tried again and she made the same gesture as soon as I sat down only this time I was distracted and really did ignore her. From the top of the stairs Rena began her decent of fury. Suitcase in hand and her shrill vocal attack on the home sent literal chills down my back. She was leaving and no one was going to stop her. "I have three houses! I'm leaving this place. You can't stop me!" Our previous conversation had obviously made her livid about her current living situation, sparking some kind of rage that could be compared to a head shy horse with crazy eyes. As she exited the building I got that third tap on my arm and the gesture to go up the stairs. Not wanting to make another scene I thought "What the heck. Up we go!" Two birthdays later we made it to the top and found a nice comfortable place to rest.
Rena began her assent to the top of the stairs.
"Where are my clothes?! You have them! What did you do with them?!"
As her flailing arms got closer to my money maker I St. Peter's image came to mind. I was really disappointed! I thought living in Honduras I would at least get killed in a car wreck or by a gang member or some crack king whose path I accidentally crossed. But no. It would be a 67 year old, 5'6", ticked off homeowner of three... Dang it.
I ducked and she corned me next to Latricia. There was that tap on my arm again only this time it was met with the most unexpected kind face. "Sit down and don't say anything. That woman is crazy!" it was like some stifled maternal memory surfaced as Latricia took my under her wing until Hurricane Rena went back into her room.
It was awesome! I had finally cracked her!
Then came that tap on the arm.
"You can leave now." Latricia was back to her cranky self and that single moment of normalcy faded as Rena's voice got further away.
I left her more confused and shaken than ever. Until I was reminded in Proverbs of the honor of what it would be to grow old. The wisdom I could gain from a woman like Latricia would be more than my 25 year old mind could handle. She is alone and hungry for Love and I think I'm just the person to introduce her to the ultimate love. I'm not going to give up on her. In fact my next approach will involve some patients and some pretty suave slippers as a peace offering/thanks for saving my life.
"The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair." -Proverbs 20:29