Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Old Man and the Knee.


"Hey there, Miss Manning!"

You announced that greeting to me while craning your head out of the door of a clinic room. Me, I was hustling and bustling through the hallways trying to get things situated for the afternoon session. I glanced back in your direction and couldn't help but slow down.

"Hey sir! What you know good?" I spoke to you in that easy and familiar language that we both know so well.

"Awww, I ain't no count!" And then you laughed out loud, slapped your knee, and then winced a bit. "Woooo! I bet' not stir ol' Arthur up."

Arthur. As in Arthur-itis.

I stopped in the doorway with a stack of papers in my hands and smiled at you. Today you were alone instead of with your daughter. This was fine because even though she sees about you, you "do for yah'self." Your dark leathery complexion has weathered the storm of your "eighty-some-odd" years quite well and I decide today that I love it all. Including those milky, bluish rings now filling the irises of your aging eyes.  An interestingly beautiful contrast against that coffee-colored complexion.

Yes, I love it all because it represents so much of what I love about Grady. Storms weathered with beautiful contrasts. 

"I don't think I recall you havin' so much gray hair, Miss Manning!"  You announced this in that unapologetic way that only the Grady elders can. "But tha's alright. I still think you a pretty little thang."

Pretty little thang? Ha. That's what I'm talking about.

I carefully watched you as your mouth moved.  Cheeks with deeply chiseled lines and scarce remains of what was once a beard pasted around your chin and cheeks. The teeth in your mouth looked to be the ones you were born with; large and rectangular but now with a tannish hue and old school dental work gleaming from the sides.  Your neck with its redundant skin is supported by shoulders that have remained unusually broad and strong.

"Chopping wood," you said. "Asked my grandson to do it, but he ain't no count." We both laughed again.

You've taken the liberty of removing your coat, folding it neatly on top of the plastic bag you'd carried in that day. And like the perfect patient that you are, you'd also removed every single one of your medication bottles from that same bag and lined them right up on the table.

"I stopped coloring it," I added in reference to the gray hair again. "Too much trouble, you know?" 

"Yeah, I hear you. I never got too much gray but I thank I woulda took the gray over losing it all!" You cackled while rubbing your shiny hairless scalp. Then you slapped that knee again and woke ol' Arthur up again. "I jest went on and shaved on off. It never really came back after that."

"Less trouble though, right?"

"Reckon it is!"

I saw your cane leaning against the wall. Weathered but still quite functional. Just like you.

"Knee still giving you a lot of trouble?"

"You know? Not as bad since they inject that medicine in it. But you know, these ol' knees been good to me so I manage just fine. This right one like to get stiff in the mornings. He get to loosenin' up as I get up and around though."  The pronoun reference to your knee warmed my heart. You warmed my heart even more. I knew I could stand there talking to you all day so I decided to move on.

"Alright then, sir. Your doctor is checking your lab work and will be in here in a few minutes."

"Okay then, baby. Good seeing you, alright?"

"You, too, sir."

"And Miss Manning? Keeping a smile on your face make you look prettier than any old hair dye can any day."

That's what I'm talking about.

One of the nurses overheard that part as she came in to check supplies in the room. I looked over at her from the doorway. "You hear that? That was a good word, huh?" 

She laughed and replied, "Ummm hmmm. But I think I'm gonna smile AND dye my hair."


This day was a good day.

Happy Tuesday.


  1. I love your Grady Elders. I love you for loving them, for bring them to us.

  2. Reduntant skin. Absolutely love it. You truly have a gift with words.

  3. This post reminds me of one of my FPs. A lovely woman, all of 4 ft 9 inches tall who comes for her treatments by herself via paratransit (now that is a whole nother story) because she "doesn't want to bother nobody." She talks about Arthur too. Has one arm unusable due to lymphedema and has lost the sight of one eye, but has the biggest heart of anyone I know.


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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