Prologue: Fun with my private student N:
Today I received outside confirmation that my trouble understanding Grandpa's speech is not entirely due to him. After my lesson with N. ended, he and his younger brother L. told me they were taking out a tree. What? Why? I wondered. And why do I care? But instead I used my great linguistic ability and said a more concise, "What?" "We're taking out a tree!" both boys said. "We're shooting!" L. added. I'm thinking, WHY are you cutting down a tree...it's too early for Christmas, isn't it?.....yes.....and HOW on earth are you going to get it down by shooting it? With an Uzi? What is wrong with you people?! Rather than confuse them with all my questions I modeled excellent verbal expression and scrunched up my face and said, "Huh?" Then L. lifted up his bow and N. said slowly, as if speaking to a....well, to me, "We're taking AR-CHER-Y!"
Fun with Grandpa:
My dad's dad is a 92-year-old, charming, sweetheart of a man whose picture is in the dictionary under "ornery". He's currently living with my parents, and on Sunday mornings I hang out with him, which has turned out to be a great time for both of us (or so he says). A few weeks ago, he had trouble reading the soap-opera-type comic he likes to keep up with, so he asked me to read it to him. Grandpa is a bit hard of hearing, although there is suspicion among some family members that his hearing problem is selective or he is just plain faking it. Anyway, I made the mistake of not pre-reading the comic, in which two guys were talking. So what came out of my mouth at full volume was something like this:
"HEY, JOE. HOW'S MIKE? I HEARD HE'S IN JAIL AGAIN."
"YEAH. I HAVEN'T GONE TO SEE HIM YET."
"I HEARD VALERIE WENT TO VISIT HIM."
"YEAH. SHE STAYED 45 MINUTES, AND WHEN SHE LEFT MIKE HAD A BIG SMILE ON HIS FACE."
(Silence.) (Crickets chirping.) If you've never hollered at a grandparent about conjugal visits, I highly recommend it.
Today when I went into Grandpa's room/space at Mom & Dad's house, I was a bit groggy from a fitful night's sleep. Grandpa was extra perky. "That," he said, pointing to his book of word search puzzles, "almost fell out of bed." Grandpa likes to tell silly jokes, so I thought this was one of them. "It did?" I said. "How?"
"Huh?" Grandpa said.
I put the book on his tv tray. "Are you still working on #10?"
"Yeah. Can you count that high?" (giggles)
"Ha ha." I shove Grandpa and open the book to puzzle #10 and point to it, "So how did this almost fall out of bed?"
"Huh?...No, this," he said, holding up his mechanical pencil, "is almost out of lead!" My brain's so big it clogs up my ears. It's fun to make a non-senile elderly person wonder if he's becoming senile (eye roll).
The other day as I walked into Grandpa's I heard Dad say to him, "Kerri will get your pills." Dad left and a few minutes later Grandpa told me, "I need my pills." I was a bit confused, because he usually has his pills with breakfast.
"You need your pills?" I asked.
"Yes," he said.
"Have you had your breakfast?"
"Huh?" (confused look on Grandpa's face now, too)
"You usually have your pills with breakfast. Have you had your breakfast?"
"Yeah, I had my breakfast," he said, still confused.
"Well, did you have your pills with it like usual? I don't understand what pills Dad was talking about."
"I need my PIL-LOWS," Grandpa said. Poor man.
Today he needed a paper clip. "Do you have some in your desk?" I asked, walking over to his desk/secretary - like a roll-top desk but not rounded.
"Yes, on the right side."
I looked around and eventually found them in a small jar on the left side. I took out a paper clip (but Grandpa didn't see that), held the jar up, and said, "Do you want me to put them back where I found them or where you thought they were?" (We can be very Type-A.)
"Huh? No, I need a clip."
"Yes, but do you want me to put the rest of them back here, or here?" I said, pointing.
"No! I want to clip these two papers together." (an article onto a piece of white paper)
"Yes, but what about the rest of the paper clips?"
Chuckling, but also trying very hard to remain patient with me, Grandpa said slowly and clearly, "PICK. UP. THE. JAR. AND. WALK. OVER. HERE. AND. PUT. THE. JAR. DOWN. HERE. PLEASE," as he pointed to a tray by his chair.
I laughed and said in the same way, "I. KNOW. I. GOT. THE. CLIP." I showed it to him and put it on his tray. "I'M. TALKING. ABOUT. THE. JAR," I said, holding it up.
By then we were both laughing, and I don't know where they ended up.
He clipped the papers together, then he asked me to cut off the extra white paper around the margins. (See? Type A.) He said, half-serious/half-teasing, "DON'T. CUT. THE. ARTICLE. IN. HALF. CUT HERE," he said, pointing, "AROUND. THE. ARTICLE."
"I'm going to go get the scissors and bring them here so you can watch me cut it."
Grandpa smiled, sighed with relief, and said, "Yes."
I returned with the scissors, picked up the article, and pretended I was about to cut it in half.
We keep each other mentally fit.