Catcher in the Rye

September 15, 2014

Sometimes when I find myself complaining (perhaps even whining) about my familial role, I talk about feeling like Holden Caufield’s interpretation of a Catcher in the Rye — I do often feel as though I am responsible for keeping people from falling off the edge.

So it was quite a thing for me to realize, after the urgent situation this afternoon had subsided, that I had sort of literally done that for a neighbor.

She is elderly, has dementia, and had apparently wandered across the street and up onto my porch.  I became aware of this only after my son and another neighbor were trying to get her back into her house.  I had been in my backyard doing yard work.

Long story much shorter, a police officer held the senior under the arm, while I stood behind the elderly woman and provided physical support as she made her way up the steep back stairs to her house using her hands as well as her feet.  When she got to the last step and began to stand up straight, I braced myself against the house as I stood on the steps, and I could feel the weakness in her legs as they quavered, but I gave support and she got up there, in her Boston Bruins slippers, and I gave a cheer.

I had kicked off my yard-working clogs before I ascended the stairscase;  I knew I needed as much grip as possible and the best chance at keeping my balance possible.  (I wasn’t wearing any socks.)  I have always had a terrible sense of balance, and I do have ear issues, so I suspect my balance issues have a physiological component.  I am not fond of steep staircases with shallow steps like the one we had to go up.  But no one asked me if I wanted to play my role — the other neighbor made it clear she wasn’t going to do it, and my son I think was up on the back porch already, minding the backdoor and the husband, who also suffers from dementia, waiting to receive the elderly woman.

So afterwards I was sort of amazed at what we had done, and I realized I had kept the lady from falling off the stairs — not exactly the Catcher in the Rye, but close.

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