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Meet Mr. Gray
WHO is this stud?
He's the fascinating personification of all the elderly people I stalk.
WHY do you stalk him? (p.s. that sounds creepy)
Okay, "stalk" does sound kinda bad. I guess it's more like I "purposely bump into" him when the opportunity presents itself-- like if I spotted him at the grocery store, I would basically jump over a fruit stand to try to strike up a conversation. Look, I can't help it that I caught "Gray-itis" at a young age. Definition: a sweet, yet all-consuming obsession with the elderly.
HOW did you first meet Mr. Gray?
It all started with my grandpa. Let me explain....
Leonard Rusnak, was my grandfather, buddy, soulmate, and all-around impressive elderly guy. We were besties since I was born. When I was a baby, he would push me around in a little grocery cart in the backyard. When I was a child, he would throw me on his shoulders so I could press the "button" on the fire detector (I loooved pushing buttons), sneak me extra string cheese, encourage me to mess up his hair with a comb, and taunt me to pick the old maid when we played cards. When I was a teenager, he was by my side whenever possible. In fact, just to keep me company, he insisted that he sit with me while I did my homework. Like any great friend, he made fun of my ex-boyfriends (one he named "Short Pants" lol) and like any great grandparent, taught me that the speed limit was indeed, a "limit" meant to not be exceeding (this actually makes so much sense now). When I was an adult, he shared his war stories and favorite childhood joys and would drive to my apartment to visit and even drop off a few groceries. Who DOES that at age 96?!! He did. Basically, this man was a freak of nature in a good way. I saw it and others did too; he looked and acted 15 years younger than his age.
We were inseparable until his dying day, the most meaningful and beautiful moment of my life:
Since my grandpa and I were always so snuggly with each other, I couldn't help but crawl into his hospital bed with him. He had been given morphine, so we knew we didn't have much longer with him. He had not had any food, fluids, and was no longer able to speak-- just hear. When my family left the room (besides me and my mother- his "two girls" he would say to us), we started to sing the songs to him he always sang to us. Just then, he shed a single tear down his cheek and died in our arms. We knew he had heard us and in his dehydrated, incapacitated state, still showed us he loved us too. The moment was so miraculous, so powerful, so filled with God, the love we shared for him and the love he shared for us, my mother and I peacefully smiled at each other knowing he would forever be with us.
My grandfather showed me all the fascinating qualities elderly folks have to offer and inspired me to care about them. He knew how much I loved seniors (in the video below he was in the hospital when I received my Master's Degree in Gerontology). He also always said I had a "way with words" and would tell me I should be a writer. Well, I guess this blog is me finally doing both of these...
So, Mr. Gray -- he's every elderly person I meet in my life and he looks just like my grandpa, the man who started it all.