The rehab center where my dad is currently trying to rebuild his life is connected to a nursing home.
The residents of both facilities have free reign of the hallways and since there are no definitive boundaries they mingle.
On a recent visit I was on my way out of the building and walking past a slew of wheelchairs, I came upon one, whose occupant was flagging me over.
A waif like creature with hair the color of storm clouds.
She wore a sweatshirt that looked like it belonged to her dad, the material falling in layering waves on her tiny body.
"Pick me up" she asked, with her veined, bony arms extended.
I smiled and kept walking.
"Pick me up..." she said again, a bit louder this time.
I stopped and acknowledge her outstretched arms.
"I can't pick you up dear" I said.
"I'm allowed to do that".
"PICK ME UP !!" she demanded, her rising volume gaining the attention of the other visitors in the small hallway.
"No, no honey, I can't pick you up" I said shaking my head.
For a split second she appeared to accept what I was saying.
Then she threw her head back and out from her mouth came a scream that could have woke China.
The scream, "WAHHHHHH WAHHHHH WAHHHHH sounded exactly like an exaggerated, cartoonish version of a screeching toddler.
"Wahhhhhh, wahhhhhh, wahhhhhh" the antique baby cried, her mouth open in a HUGE circle shape
The unexpected intensity of her expressed unhappiness and the absurdity of the whole situation almost made me laugh out loud.
Totally inappropriate, I know... but sometimes you just can't help what you just can't help.
A nurse who'd been sitting behind the desk and witnessing the whole exchange shushed the woman and said "she can't pick you up now".
Which, for the moment, seemed to pacify the crybaby.
Yesterday, I took my dad outside for some fresh air, we had to walk past the tiny woman again sitting in her chair near the door.
"See that little old lady" I whispered in my dad's one good ear "that one over there" I said, nodding in her direction.
As we wheeled by I told him the story about how she'd acted when I wouldn't pick her up out of her chair.
"Yeah" he said " I met her the other day in the dining room" he continued. "she wanted to eat my food, I pointed to the kitchen and told her that there was more in there."
"All hell broke loose"he said.
"She screeched like a banshee" he laughed, shaking his head.
"How embarrassing" I replied.
"Yeah, it sure was" he said.
Later, I laughed as I shared with Susan (my sister, the one who doesn't read this blog) our experiences with the old lady.
She told me she knew exactly who I was talking about.
Seems the whole family has raised the ire of this pint sized screamer.
Susan and her daughter walked past and answered an innocent enough sounding question...
"How old are you?" the senior asked my niece.
Her answer of "fifteen" unleashed the yowling beast.
"It came out of nowhere" Susan said.
Keeps ya on yer toes.... we both agreed.
It also gave me thoughts of my own personal "old lady bag of tricks"... (which is filling by the day.)