Safe at Home

Mo’s big date and the morning after

By JIM CURTIS

“Hey, Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy!” Mo chirped as I came through the door.

“Ready to rock and roll, good buddy?”

He responded by dancing in his wheelchair. It was the most upbeat I had seen him in our 18 months together. That’s because I found a woman for Mo, and this was their first date. Tricia, Mo’s new caregiver, applied the finishing touches, and we rolled out the door to the car where Mo’s date waited.

Although he is surrounded by females who lavish attention and love on him, Mo still wants his woman, someone to call his own. Why else would an 89-year-old twice-divorced widower propose to every caregiver I provide? The latest proposal came after Tricia had been on the job for two weeks. The 30-year-old respectively declined just like the three previous caregivers. Plus, Tricia has a 1 year old, and Mo isn’t ready for fatherhood again.

I once asked Mo why he needed a woman to call his own. “I want a woman I can hold during the night,” he responded.

Even though he has dementia and communicates poorly, Mo teaches me a lot about human nature. In the last days of life, he still pines for love like a young man. It puzzles me. Gordon

Livingston, a psychiatrist and author of Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart, seems to have put the pieces together properly.

“What we are looking for is someone we imagine will complete us and affirm our worth. It is a powerful fantasy seldom realized,” Livingstone wrote in his national bestseller. He believes we never stop yearning for the emotional security of unconditional approval as a shield against an uncertain, often uncaring, world.

I have heard single seniors say they want someone to call their own so they can grow old together. It makes sense. Who wants to die alone? We all want a loved one for support as we start the lonesome walk through that death-shaded valley.

We seek ownership as reassurance our possession is exclusive and will function as designed in our time of need. So it’s my rattle, my teething ring, my teddy bear, my toy, my mommy, my daddy, my girlfriend, my husband.

Paula, a friend of mine for 56 years, waited in the car. She is a 69-year-old widow with a history of getting involved with older men — much older men. When we were 16, she dated guys who already graduated high school. At 20, she dated a man more than twice her age; at 51, she married a man 85.

As Paula drove her date and chaperones to a show at the King’s Point North Club, I interjected engaging conversation from the back seat. “Hey Mo, did you know Paula was married to a guy 34 years older?” Tricia tapped me on the arm. “Careful, don’t get him too excited; he’s been talking about her all day.”

As the ladies unloaded Mo and wheeled him away for the annual Lip Sync Show, I felt like the father of a teen. “You kids have fun. I’ll pick you up later,” I said before driving away.

Later, after Mo was returned home and tucked away for the night, I got a full report from Paula.

“A good time was had by all. Mo enjoyed the show, and the people at our table were super friendly. We had just sat down when one of our table mates asked me, ‘Would you and your significant other like some snacks?’ So, I guess I played the part well.” Paula held Mo’s hand periodically. She helped him stand when a song of tribute played to honor veterans.

Meanwhile, Tricia was doing her thing, primarily resisting shots of tequila offered by friendly, fun-loving table mates.

The next day I got the other side of the story. Mo was upset because he thought Paula didn’t have a good time and didn’t pay enough attention to him,” Tricia confided. “The more he talked about it, the more agitated he became. Finally, he blurted out, ‘Well, if she doesn’t like me to hell with her.’”

Mo has a short memory due to dementia. Paula, once again, will become the apple of his eye. Little chance of a June wedding, but the odds are good for a second date.

Jim Curtis is the owner of Home Haven. He is certified by the state of Florida to provide homemaker and companion services and focuses on keeping elders-in-need in their homes. Call him at 813-331-3471, or e-mail Jim.Curtis48@icloud.com.