Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Jinks and Beulah

At Shiny Meadows, a few rooms down the hall from Dad, reside a long-married couple, Jinks and Beulah. They're both around 90 and both in wheelchairs.

At mealtimes in the dining room, Jinks sits with "the boys" at his table of four, and Beulah dines with her 3 girlfriends. At first this bugged me a little (I've been there for a lot of meals and have become familiar with the people and their dinner habits), but when I considered that they spend all day in their room together, this seemed like their social time out. And yes, I do realize this is none of my business, but I can't help watching it all.

At the end of the meal, Jinks lines his wheelchair up behind Beulah's and pushes her along, tiny moves forward, as he shuffles his feet to inch his own chair forward. This process of getting back to their room takes five to ten minutes, and when I first witnessed it, I felt like melting into a pool of "Awwwww." It was so sweet, so romantic that even in their heightened frailty, Jinks is this devoted to Beulah, fully invested in seeing her safely back to their room and taking some of the burden of daily life off her tired shoulders.

However, it is easy to look at someone's marriage partnership and decide how it is, and be just a sliver off-track in your estimation. A friend of mine who comes to visit her grandfather in Shiny Meadows, lived next door to Jinks and Beulah out in the deep rural backwoods of Indiana, and knows them well. Apparently, Beulah entered the nursing home way ahead of Jinks. Two years ahead. And she was delighted to get away from him. Her freedom, earned so late in life it was practically in the closing credits, was delicious and long awaited. Jinks's visits to Beulah were as close as he could get to ruling the roost, because eventually he had to go back home.

Until he went into Shiny Meadows. And roomed with her.

Reunited and it feels so good? Not according to the nurses who work there. "Jinks like to control her," they say. "He pushes her right back to the room after dinner so he can keep track of her."

"Maybe that's why she's so sour," my mom tells me. "She never smiles. I think she takes a vinegar bath every night."

I don't know what kind of trouble Beulah could get into at the Meadows. There are no pole dancing classes, no speed-dating sessions, no dark rooms set aside for the smoking of opium. The trouble must reside in Jinks's own heart, the fear that after all these years his bride might get away. Doesn't hurt to remind her who's boss, with a little, er, rear-ending each night after dinner.


  • At 12:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for sharing your journal with us, Candy. "There are eight million stories in the Naked City - this is one of them."

    God bless...

  • At 4:37 PM, Blogger E. said…

    Wow, what a strange and intriguing story. It's amazing what's sometimes beneath the surface of an observed moment...

  • At 6:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What we make up is always better than the reality, isn't it?

  • At 9:31 AM, Blogger Steve B said…

    It's not fear that she will get away. It's a pathological need to control. For whatever reason, people like this require control. It validates them, and it comforts them in power. So maybe there is fear there, but not of or for the other person.

    At it's root, this kind of manipulation is just plain meanness, usually born out of some deep-seated insecurity. It's about demanding obedience, not about fear of loss. I grew up with that.

    That's really very sad. To feel a brief time of freedom, only to be trapped again with your tormentor until one of you dies.

    I'd be a bit vinegary myself.

  • At 10:07 AM, Anonymous oneavid said…

    Oh, that last line is perfect!


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