I work with the elderly. Actually, the frail elderly, many of whom have some level of dementia. I love the work I do. It is one more realm where I get to explore the spaces in between. Dementia is one of those liminal places neither here nor there. It’s more than confusion and less than obliteration. We meet in some other reality not quite close and not quite far, but always and definitely connected through our humanness, our need to belong, our desire to love and be loved. Our ageist society expects the elderly to be less flexible, more set in their ways, less understanding of new and different. Yet I am their chaplain, all 650 of them and none of them question that, most giving of themselves wholeheartedly. None of them question my gender. I am to them who I am to them. I am neither male nor female. I am either. I am both.
“see him. see that guy. he’s a mess. he looks like a rumpled bed. doesn’t he own an iron? it’s a sin to go out in public like that. he should be embarrassed . I look at him and I see a rumpled bed. I look at you and I say, ‘now there’s a man who knows how to dress! there’s a man who looks nice and freshly pressed all the time. a handsome man.’ I mean, you’re a mother. you know. you would never let your child out of the house looking like that. am I right?”