And causing chaos
I arrived at the Wilton Cannondale Assisted Living Facility to take my 84-year-old mother out to dinner. I was wearing my new Burberry sunglasses that were a splurge for my diminishing distance vision. Apparently I’d inherited my mother’s blue eyes but not her excellent sight.
That afternoon Mom wasn’t feeling her best and asked if we could eat dinner at Cannondale instead of going out. It took an hour to get her dressed and to coif her fine white hair just so. Finally, we headed to the dining room. She was a new resident and this was my first experience dining there. As I sat down I took off my sunglasses and hung them on the crossbar of Mom’s walker.
After a “lovely” meal of well-cooked peas and chicken-something I stood up to leave and reached for my sunglasses, but my mother’s walker was gone. It had been right there! Was I losing my mind? Would I soon be a new resident at Cannondale? I then realized that mom’s walker was neatly parked beside her chair. I had placed my pricey designer sunglasses on someone else’s identical walker.
The maître d’ was summoned and, red-faced, I explained the mix-up. In trying to determine the owner of the walker, he asked me a series of rapid-fire questions that I found myself unable to answer. Was one of the women at the table next to me wearing a blue dress? Was the man sitting with her tall or short? At the table by the coffee, was there a lady with an eye patch?
Despite my complete inability to answer a single question he seemed to think that the walker belonged to either Mrs. King or Dr. Paradise, both nonagenarians. But before speaking to them, he insisted on searching the entire dining room to see if the sunglasses had fallen off the missing walker, onto the floor. He and his staff were better than any TV team of CSI forensic detectives, and within minutes the whole room was aflutter about the Case of the Missing Sunglasses.
I squinted across the room and saw a blur of elder activity. The residents diligently looked around their chairs and wheelchairs, on and under their tables. They poked the carpet with canes and grabbers “just in case.” My mother shuffled around the perimeter of the room with her walker, chatting animatedly with everyone she encountered about the critical importance of finding my prescription sunglasses because her apartment was not yet “set up yet for overnight guests.” I was mortified by all the attention. Alas, the sunglasses remained AWOL.
It was decided that the receptionist would telephone Mrs. King and Dr. Paradise who had both retired to their apartments. But after much conversation trying to explain that a stranger’s sunglasses could be folded over a bar of their walker, each said, “No, their walkers looked fine.”
How was I going to get home without my glasses? I explored my options. I could drive without glasses, which would be illegal and make me a menace to everyone on the road. I could get my second pair of glasses picked up from home and delivered to Cannondale, but who to call? My husband was on a plane. Scratch him. I could leave my car and call a taxi but with Wilton being a bit of a taxi hinterland, a cab might or might not show up. My final option was to call my younger brother in Ridgefield and suffer through the gleeful retelling of the “Case of the Missing Sunglasses” at all future family events. Meanwhile, Mom was exhausted from the commotion and needed to go back up to her apartment.
As the elevator doors opened at her floor, standing there in the hallway was a diminutive, impeccably dressed gentleman wearing a big smile and holding––be still my heart––my sunglasses. Dr. Paradise my hero!
I smiled at my good Samaritan and then impulsively asked, “May I give you a kiss to say thank you?”
“Oh that would be lovely,” he replied. I bent down and kissed his wrinkled cheek (though it was hard to resist the impulse to kiss the top of his bald head). He beamed.
As I settled Mom for the evening with strategically placed pillows, and blankets arranged “just so,” we chatted about the sunglasses adventure and about how everyone had been so friendly and helpful. And suddenly I knew my mother would be happy there.
Later, when I was driving home I wondered when last sweet Dr. Paradise had been kissed by a woman at least 35 years his junior? Would I be the last woman ever to kiss him? And tomorrow … would he remember that he’d been kissed?