All of my mother's neighbors have their "quirks". There is the one who puts her makeup on with a shovel and flirts with everyone. There is the one whose dentures really need adjusting and who sends her teeth flying when she gets yelling, which is fairly often. There is the debonaire guy with severe arthritis who rolls out to the nurses' station every day at the same time to get his two cigarettes which he then takes down in the elevator so he can smoke them in peace outside. There is the guy who does amazing bird calls....all. day. long. And then there's Snoopy. That's not her real name. I won't tell you her real name. But you've probably met her. She hangs on every conversation, especially the ones in which she is not a participant. From another table she will chime in with her two cents on any subject. She asks unbelievably personal questions, and is guaranteed to make at least one very unwelcome personal observation in the course of a week. "Geez, you've packed on a few pounds," she will tell you, whether it's true or not. "Your mother's hair is getting thin. It's the medicine," she kindly offers, even though Mother could probably have lived without the information. It goes on and on. The nurses have moved her to another table for meal times. It's not for my mother's sake. It's for mine. And for Snoopy's safety. Because one of these days I'm going over the table and strangling her. I'll just snap. I can feel it coming.
I realize that she can't help it and that she is bored out of her mind by sitting in the same place all the time. I do know that I represent "the outside world" and that she is starving for conversation and company. Sometimes I even try polite chit chat with her, because I'm not a monster. I have a heart. The foibles and weaknesses of all the other residents I view with patience and compassion. The nearest I can figure out is that she represents all the traits I see in myself which I like least. And if nothing else, she does help to keep me humble. Because for all my smugness about what a wonderful daughter I am, I am truly ashamed of how often I dream about hitting this poor old lady right in the smacker with a large cream pie.