Mme. R used to sit at the same table as M. D, before they moved her to Mme. H’s table. She and I get along generally, but my heart really went out to her when I learned that she had once been a physics researcher at Sorbonne. Like so many people at Nazareth, the retirement home where I volunteer a couple of times a week at supper, Mme. R once had a beautiful mind.
It’s a bit like being an athlete who becomes paralyzed. Only it’s somehow just a little sadder for me – and I mean no disrespect to anyone dealing with debilitations purely physical in nature – but we all know that our bodies have a use-by date. We hope that our minds only grow more refined with age. Sure, we become a little forgetful, but we get wise, and that is ample compensation for a little absent-mindedness.
At Nazareth I’m surrounded by former teachers, head mistresses, university professors and researchers. I don’t consider myself a particularly intelligent person, but I’m sure that the loss of my reason, logic and memory would make me more than a little grumpy. “Be careful with Mme. R,” Mme. D told me when she saw that we got along well. “She can be very nasty sometimes.”
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