Friday, January 16, 2009


English is my only language. When I want to get a laugh, I retrieve my high school Spanish from (deep inside) my memory vault. "Pasame la sal!" I love to shout (on any random occasion-- I just like the way it sounds). Pass the salt!

And so I don't know if other languages have as many words that have several meanings, though the same spelling and pronunciation.

"Battery" comes to mind. I put a new AA battery in my Aunt Netsy's table clock. She lives in a nursing home. She can't see the one on her wall. I then painstakingly reset the clock. Somehow the knobs on the back had come off. Finally the clock was in good shape again, and she was happy.

When I arrived the next day, the little clock lay on its face on the table. The battery cover was taken off and-- surprise!-- the battery was gone. My aunt hadn't noticed anything, and I wouldn't have expected her to. But, sadly, she wasn't surprised. "People can do what they want to do," she said simply.

If you are at all familiar with nursing homes, you already know the insidious attitude that can permeate even the best of them: Your room also belongs to me. "Me" is the staff. Since I take care of you, I can walk in whenever it suits me, rummage through your drawers if I choose, take your newspaper if I want to read it, and remove furniture without telling you. I can show up with a paintbrush and work in your room without notice. I can change your television programs to MTV. I can remove batteries from your remote control or your clock if I have another purpose for them.

You? You're a body in a bed.

It's not just a battery. It's also battery, as in assault.

1 comment:

  1. Powerful words about a truly sad situation. You can know that you are making a difference in this woman's life. That is powerful also.