Talking About Race: A Workbook

Saturday, August 22, 2009

More about Barbara ...

A friend of Barbara's and her deceased husband had called to stop by to visit her. His name was Harry and he is African American. Barbara knew that this might cause a commotion where she lived, as he'd be picking her up to take her out. So she let him know the kind of place she lived in. (She had not chosen the residence by the way, it was chosen for her, but that is another story!) Harry said that is something he is willing do deal with.

He picked her up. The attendant was clearly uncomfortable. (I was there visiting at the time.) He helped her into the car and off they went. They returned several hours later. I am also there as B. and I had other things to do that afternoon. Harry helped her out of the car and they gave each other a kiss goodbye.

The head of the residence was up in her office and noticed B. return as they have a back entrance that is wheelchair accessible.

Although she knows me and knows I was there she had come out of the elevator with a growl of an expression on her face and her posture was stiff as a board too. She looked to me and said, "I was upstairs and saw them out the window, and wanted to come down to make sure everything was all right."

Now I knew where she was at. I let it go because I also knew Barbara would figure it out and want to deal with it in her own way. B. is the one who is living there and in this woman's care it needs to be worked out between them. Once inside the woman followed us in the elevator and she asked B. "So that is your friend?"

And Barbara answered "He most certainly is." She then proceeded to go to the staff room and to share this interaction with the staff.

How do I know?

Well, I don't. I am drawing an assumption based upon the changes in attitude toward Barbara ever since that day. Before she went out to lunch with Harry the staff were exceptionally sweet and accomodating toward her. They had often told me how wonderful she is.

Since that day Barbara has begun to have a reputation for being "difficult". They told her daughter that she is "getting worse" when she is not and has no signs of dementia. They warned her that if she continues to give them "any problems" she will have to go.

Barbara has decided to withstand the storm. She has no choice but to do that. She is still very happy. None of this has phased her although you cannot help but be aware of the change and it is unpleasant.

Someone at her lunch table said to her, "Is he really your friend"?

To which B. answered, "He most certainly is." "Oh ..." the woman said, and turned away.

She has not spoken to Barbara since.

"I am okay with that" Barbara said to me and added, "She needn't ever speak to me again. That is all right."