My brother Tim’s worsening memory and physical balance, increasing his incidences of getting lost and of falling, and his growing sense of insecurity and loneliness as a result, have been a growing concern to Jerry and me.
Occasionally when Tim takes the bus up to our house for dinner and a movie (he’s been doing this for years), Jerry has had to wait at the bus stop for him for an hour or more. Sometimes it is because several buses went by without stopping to pick him up; sometimes it is because he got off at the wrong stop at our end. He’ll explain amiably when we drive around and finally find him: “It looked like the right stop. It had a fast food place on the corner with a store across the street.”
He doesn’t have a cell phone anymore. He agreed to try one–twice–and Jerry set them all up for him but he wasn’t able to figure them out. (Once I called Tim and a strange man answered and said he’d found the phone in the street. He asked where Tim lived and I described the nearest gas station, rather than giving an exact address, and he waited for Tim there and gave it back to him. Tim didn’t know he’d lost it.)
The other day we had promised to drive Tim to a friend’s house and we had to renege because a friend who was in the middle of a heart attack last time we took her to ER was having chest pains again. Tim said that was all right–he had the address and he could get there by bus. But he got lost and somehow ended up in Home Depot.
“I didn’t get angry,” he told us later. ” I was just lost, so it was okay. I just wandered around.”
Without saying anything to each other Jerry and I both knew at some point he would no longer be able to live alone.