life 19 Apr 2016 11:22 am

Another emotional encounter

Facebook post from 19 April at 11:22 · Athens ·

Another emotional encounter this morning:

Walking two streets from The Cube on Benaki str. I encounter a very old man asking someone for help – He’s confused, probably suffering from the first signs of dementia. “Where are the busses, I want to go home” – “Which bus do you need” asks the other man, an owner of a kiosk, not able to give him the attention required.
I intervene.
“Where do you live” –
He pauses, angry at himself “I don’t remember the address but I remember the place I take the bus from and the stop I need to get off on”
A needle in a haystack.
“Do you have children?” I ask, “Do you have their phone number?” He’s very confused.
“I have children but they haven’t seen me in years – where are we? I just came downtown to buy some shaving cream – now I’m lost”
“We’re on the corner of Akadimias and Benaki”
“Show me the place where there’s a dip in the road, the beginning”
“The beginning of Akadimias?”
“Yes, there where the busses leave from. What’s the name of the square”, there’s that confused gaze again.
“Kannigos” I respond – his eyes light up.
“That’s it , there”
So I walk this old man a little further east towards the bus stops
“No the other way – all I do now is go there down that street and my bus leaves from there” – He’s pointing to Solonos street – We walk past the ever present drug dealers and he tells me he’s 93 years old. He has 3 children and 8 grandchildren – he lives alone – the anesthetic used during an operation he had on a broken hip 3 years ago left his mind numb. His children slowly drifted away after he lost his wife. “They have their own lives now”
He was a bus driver – coming to Athens at age 16 “When the Germans came to Kefallonia, I left and came to Athens. It’s worse now don’t you think?” He asks.
“I don’t know, I haven’t lived through a war”
“It’s worse now”, he says
We walked for 10 minutes or so as I took him to his bus station, making sure he knew where he was going. In the short time as we waited for his bus, we spoke about life, love, war and peace, about disappointment, about achievements, about parenthood – about my Father and Mother.
“Your Dad is a youngster” he said
We spoke about Greece as it was and as it is. This old man had so much to tell and give. Yet, he’s abandoned, unable to even use a phone. – I gave him my card.
“I can’t call you”, he maintained.
“If you get lost on the way home, give it to someone, and have them call me – I’ll come take you to your home and install a phone with big buttons – all you’ll do is press one button to call your daughters”
“One button?” The impossible seemed possible.
I wonder how many old people there are that are just like him. Forgotten by their kids, the ones they once gave everything for.
It made me sad. Really sad. We don’t spend enough time with our elderly.

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