It was a bad morning

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Got a call from the wife about two hours ago. Asked me to check in on the neighbors. They’re a couple in their mid-80s. One has severe Alzheimer’s. One is immobile and on tons of pain meds. Because their kids live a bit away, we’re asked—on occasion—to take a peek.

So I took a peek.

The front door was wide open. The woman, whose memory is shot, was shaking, pacing back and forth. I introduced myself, even though we’ve met dozens of times before. “Hey, I’m Jeff and I live next door. I was told to check in …”

“Dick won’t move,” she said, pointing toward a bedroom.

“OK,” I said. “Let’s go look.”

I entered. Dick, the husband, was sitting in a wheelchair. His eyes were shut. For a moment, I thought he might be dead. “Dick!” I said.

He opened his eyes. I noticed that his pants were down around his ankles, and his underwear pulled toward his knees. He slurred an answer. “Yeaaaasssshhhh.”

“Dick,” I said. “Are you OK?”

He looked up and slurred some more. In front of him, on a dresser, were a bunch of pill bottles. “Did you take something you weren’t supposed to?” I said.


The wife asked me again who I was, and I told her. She told me her daughter was on her way. I found the daughter’s number. No answer. Called another daughter. No answer. “Stay with us, please,” the woman pleaded. She was still trembling. I got her a glass of orange juice frome the refrigerator, called a daughter again. No answer.

Finally, I dialed 911. The woman begged me not to, but I did. Her husband was out of it. For all I knew he took 30 pills. I had no idea. The ambulance arrived. The daughter called. I told her to meet her parents at the hospital. I told the woman everything would be OK.

It was a bad morning.

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