Saturday, March 07, 2009

Meet Ava Buttle

Meet my friend Ava Buttle. She lives in a million different places all over the country – but mostly in assisted living facilities and retirement homes. Ava does get around. She’s easy to find but not always easy to explain. You see, Ava often doesn’t know where she is, how she got there, the time of day, or for that matter the month or year. You may have guessed that Ava is not a person but a condition. Ava Buttle is a Jewish word, most likely spelled avabutle or evabutel, rather than Ava Buttle, but I like to think of it as a her because it makes it so much more personal. Anyway, you use it to describe someone who is confused, or disoriented.

The other day, we were at dinner at Mom’s retirement center. I don’t actually eat there because they eat breakfast at 7 lunch at 11 and dinner at 4:30. It’s too early or too close together for me to enjoy a meal, but I do like sitting with the ladies and making either parallel or scatty conversation. The parallel conversation is when they talk to one another but since no one can hear the answers are always colorful. Like Mom asked Elizabeth how her night was and Elizabeth answered that she hadn’t had a fight with anyone. It was Ok because Mom (not hearing the answer) said “I wish I could say the same”. I have no idea what she thought she heard but they all seem satisfied with the interaction.

The scatty conversation is a bit more disturbing but can also be amusing. Margaret’s friend Ava Buttle never goes on vacation. When Margaret comes to meals she is never sure which one she is eating, but as long as it doesn’t have cream, it doesn’t seem to bother her. Yesterday, we took Mom back to her apartment after dinner and I thought I better just check to see if Margaret had made it back to her apartment. Sure enough, she was wandering the hall. I took her back to her room. She opened the door with the key on a lanyard around her neck. I said goodbye and she asked me if I had taken the key. “No Margaret”, I said, “It’s around your neck” “Well I’ll be” she said, “How did it get there.” “ Not sure, but goodnight Margaret and goodnight Ava” I said.

It occurs to me that the economy is avabutle, or maybe I am avabutle about the economy. Either way, there is serious confusion. The reports today are that the stock market hasn’t been this low since 1996. I was relieved rather than upset. 1996 was a pretty good year. Clinton was asking us to build a bridge to the next century. People were working, had homes, and made investments. It was a happy time. Gore may have continued to build the bridge. We will never know. Bush just wanted to sell it to the highest bidders—most of whom were his friends. Then, shamefully there was the war and additionally, the banks, lenders, speculators, and all kinds of corporations, got greedy. We seemed to change from a country ready to walk into the future, to a country that only wanted more, more, more, without thinking about the consequences of what that meant.

The President has been in office for a little over a month. He is anything but avabutel. (Yes, I am even avabuttle about the spelling – Yiddish words are never spelled the same way twice.) So far he has held an Economic Summit and a Health Care Summit. He is realistic but speaks optimistically about the future. He seems to be rebuilding that bridge to the future. It’s not easy. He is fighting the constant haranguing by the cable news networks and the do nothing Republicans. But I’m thinking, a little touch of 1996 is not a bad thing. And as long as he’s OK ---see you later Ava. We’re just sayin’…. Iris

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