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A Non-Visit

Yesterday, just past 3:00 a.m., my great-uncle Eddie died in Detroit. He’s the youngest of the four Kahn siblings who arrived in the US in 1922—my Bubbie’s “kid brother.”

That leaves the oldest of the bunch, my great-uncle Dave, as the sole surviving sibling. He’s 99 years old and lives in a nursing home about a mile from my house. Knowing he’d be upset, and also knowing that his children live out of town, I planned to drop by for a visit with Simon after the latter’s afternoon nap yesterday.

Our visit required precision timing, as Simon typically wakes up at around 4:00 p.m. and we needed to leave Four Courts Senior center by 5:15 so my cousin Dana (Uncle Dave’s granddaughter) could have time alone with him. Alas, Simon awoke late from his nap, we didn’t get out the door until 4:40, and my uncle was indisposed from the time we got there until Dana showed up and we had to leave.

That left about 35 minutes for us to roam the halls of the nursing home, and I mean that quite literally. Simon loves nothing more than a nice long hall to run down, and Four Courts Senior Center has several excellent specimens.

At first I was mortified. I mean, I was there to pay a respectful visit to my great-uncle, and instead my 2 ½ year-old son was running amok and squealing in the halls, most of the time dragging his giddy-up stick-pony with him for good measure. He ran, he giggled, he squealed, he yelled hello to everyone, and he barged into one person’s room before I could redirect him.

The funny thing about all of this is that the residents, to a person, ate it up. The exact same behavior in any other venue I can imagine—a mall, a restaurant, even the zoo—would result in at least one glare that translates as “can’t you control your child?” But here, everyone smiled at him, then smiled at me and made small talk.

He sure is busy!

I wish I had that energy!

I bet he’ll sleep well tonight!

Thanks for bringing him by, dear.

And my favorite, from the woman whose room Simon had unceremoniously barged into:

Oh that’s OK honey. I don’t mind a little visitor at all. What’s his name?

Huh. I think, just maybe, the next time I need a little ego boost or vindication of my parenting skills, I’m going straight to Four Courts. And heck, maybe we’ll even bump into my Uncle Dave while we’re there.

Coda: Simon likes to play hide-and-seek in closets. When we arrived at my Uncle Dave’s room and he wasn’t there, Simon immediately went to open the doors in the room. I stopped him, of course, but he spent the entire afternoon talking about “Uncle Dave playing in the closet”. He also loved the tennis balls on the back legs of my uncle’s walker, and made a grab for the banana on his lunch tray. Simon thought Four Courts was a great place to play!

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