Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mr. B's "Conditions"

Lovely elderly couple, the B's.  Renting a nice one-bedrooom, rent-subsidized apartment from us.  Children and grandchildren stop by often to visit.  But, as the Missus confides, Mr. B has a lot of "conditions".  He has heart problems, cataracts, a tracheotomy, high blood pressure, and the only reason he doesn't have dandruff is because he's bald. 
The grocery store is 1/2 block away.  Mrs. B doesn't go to the store without alerting at least one other tenant to keep an ear out for the Mister while she's gone.  She leaves their door ajar in case of an emergency, and  hurries through her errands to get back to him, because, it seems, he’ll drop at any moment. This goes on for a couple of years.
One day, Mr. B comes to my office.  He’s in tears. He tells me that his wife is in the hospital.  Seems she got cancer of the brain.  She's gone inside a month, from diagnosis to death.  Mr. B is devastated. 
Shortly after the funeral, he stops back in my office.  He's very concerned that we will let him stay in his apartment.  It's heart-rending to see a man old enough to be my grandfather afraid that he'll lose his home.  Fortunately, with the Section 8 program, I  adjust his rent downward so he can afford to stay.  My office is right underneath his apartment, so I keep an ear open for him when I’m there. He's a pretty good cook, so that's taken care of.  He seems to be managing fine.
One day he stops me in the hall to tell me that his grandchildren are coming to visit.  He invites me in to see his apartment, all fixed up for his company.  I go in and see that there's a clean tablecloth on the table, but, because of his cataracts, he can't see that the apartment is filthy. I arrange with another tenant, who does housekeeping for a living, to come in monthly and clean his place. 
And Mr. B lived happily into his 90s in that apartment, alone and independent, and then  went to live out his remaining years with one of his daughters.

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