Published October 18, 2006
The Unanswered Knock of Love, continued: Why Ken Cries
As most regular listeners to the LbFRS know-I spend a lot of time at a local assisted living nursing home +Alzheimerxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s centre. I have gotten to know a number of the residents/patients/inmates. This facility houses folks -some needing minimal care, some rehabbing from surgery to some who, in the Alzheimerxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s unit have lost their sense of being.
Over the this last year, I have come to know some of the residents rather well. I visit so often, that some of the residents think that I am an employee and ask me for help-frequently I offer some level of assistance. I have some joyful times and some that are painful to remember and difficult to forget.
One of the(sort of) happier experiences is with an older woman that I will call xc3xa2xe2x82xacxcbx9cDiannaxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2. I first met Dianna when she called me over to her: xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93Miss ?, Missy? will you help me Missy?xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d I went over to her to see what she wanted/needed. I knelt down next to Diannaxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s wheelchair. She reached behind my head and gently pulled my xc3xa2xe2x82xacxcbx9cponytailxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2. Then she stroked my face and said: xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93Dearie, youxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ve got to do something about those whiskers.xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d Not feeling machismanic I assured her that I would comply and found that she wanted a glass of water which I provided for her. That began an interesting relationship(she has since realized that I am male but still wants me to do something about my whiskers. Oh, anyone thatxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s seen me lately will find that Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ve complied-but only after she told me that Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2d become wealthy if Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2d shave).
I stop and see Dianna a few times each week. I am told that shexc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s referred to me as her son,husband,neighbor,friend,etc. She recently told me that she was getting a bed in her room for whenever I wanted to stay, and a phone so that I could call her every night. BTW-just got back from the facility and when Dianna saw me she looked shocked and said: xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d Oh wow, I thought you were dead !!xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d
So whoxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s Ken?
During my visits, I couldnxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t help noticing a woman who was there nearlyevery time I was at the facility-Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ll call her Laura. Lauraxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s an attractive, petite woman. Shexc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s got to be in her late 60xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s but looks younger. Latter youxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ll know why shexc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s at least late 60xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s. Laura was always with a guy in a wheel chair-pushing Ken. Kenxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s a big guy, although Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ve never seen him stand, you can tell. You can tell that Ken was a strong guy that most wouldnxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t xc3xa2xe2x82xacxcbx9cmessxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2 with if ya didnxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t have to xc3xa2xe2x82xacxcbx9cmessxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2 with him. Ken, not a visible hair on his head appears to have been a muscular guy in his prime and probably far beyond that. These are assumptions that I make, as I said, Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ve never seen Ken out of his wheel chair.Ah, but I DO see Ken get around. I see Ken get around when his wife Laura pushes him . Again, Ken BIG,Laura petite, yet Laura really gets Ken going in his wheel chair. I arrived at the facility one day last summer to find Laura pushing big Ken uphill. I asked Laura if I could help and she politely refused saying:xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d wexc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2re doing finexc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d. xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93Wexc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2re doing finexc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d ? I thought about that and wondered just how fine they could be doing. Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ve never seen Ken speak nor heard Ken speak, which doesnxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t mean that he cannot or does not speak.
Recently I learned that Laura & Ken were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary-at the facility. Ken seemed unaware of the festivities-certainly unaware that the festivities had anything to do with him or Laura. Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2m not certain that Ken even knows who Laura is to him. I see Laura speak to Ken, but never see Ken speak to Laura,or anyone. Ken lives in the Alzheimerxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2sxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2 unit-Laura lives alone, alone in the home that they shared for nearly half a century togetherxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9dno longer.
I arrived one day and upon entering saw Ken facing the front doors. Laura was not there-Ken was crying. Here was this big guy in a wheel chair that I once would have referred to as an oak tree with hair- a strong , tough guyxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9ca guy that youxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2d have preferred to have had with you,not against youxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9cand he was now sitting in a wheel chair crying. Ken wasnxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t just tearing up,he was crying-tears streaming down his big cheeks-Laura wasnxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t there. I alerted the concierge as to Kenxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s tears and the concierge assured me that she and the staff were aware of Kenxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s tears. I tried to speak with Ken and then just spoke to him. Ken never made eye contact with me-he did eventually stop crying although I do not know why-why Ken cried or why he stopped. I do wonder why Ken cried . I understand that Ken occasionally cries and then stops, for no apparent reasonxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9cKen knows why he cries-I donxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t know why he cries. I do wonder why Ken cries. Does he cry for Laura? Does he cry because hexc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s aware of his deteriorating mental condition? Does he cry remembering love ones whoxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ve died? Maybe Kenxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s actually crying,mourning for himself ? Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2d like to help Ken, to talk with Ken about whatxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s troubling him. Maybe someone hurt him and hexc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s sadxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9dmaybe he hurt someone else and hexc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s sorry. I am told that there is no possibility of Ken ever telling me or anyone why he cries. I am told that Kenxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s mental condition is getting worse,not better. So I wonder: will Ken continue to cry ? and why???
Tomorrow Laura will come back to see Ken. Laura will smile and kiss him hello and Ken will look right through her. I read that married couples are now in the minority of couples in the U.S. of A. . Herexc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s a couple whoxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s loved and weathered,weathered and loved for 50 years-FIFTY YEARS ! My guess is that Ken protected and provided for Laura for nearly fifty years. My guess is that Ken loved Laura ,made love to Laura and dried Lauraxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s tears for 50 years. . Yes, I do not believe in romance, I KNOW romance and this couple romanced.
So why does Ken cry? Obviously Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ll never know although it certainly doesnxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t seem like a reward-loving for fifty years only to have the memories disappear before the body disappears. Does Ken cry because he feels love fading inside ? Does Ken cry because he cannot retrieve the memories ? Maybe Ken cries because he can actually feel loss before the loss occurs ? Isnxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t that all of us? Maybe thatxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s why we need to express the love we have now? Hopefully we all have at least someONE that we share love with. Hopefully we all have at least someONE whoxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s loss would leave us with an xc3xa2xe2x82xacxcbx9cunfillablexc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2 emptiness, a void. In our busy days,our busy lives, why do we forget to love in these fleeting moments which are our lives? We all know that the rose , no matter how well kept, will die. We all know that that wexc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ll never again be able to smell the rosexc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s sweetness. We all know that the rose will dry and harden and never again feel soft and silky against our skin. We can remember the beauty of the rose, but the rose is best enjoyed while alive.
Have I idealized Ken?- Maybe I have, maybe he never loved. Maybe Ken now realizes that itxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s too late. Maybe thatxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s why Ken criesxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6.