Friday, April 21, 2017


The brain is a marvel, and a terror.

When I was a CNA, I loved working with Wayne. He'd had a stroke, then another, and his dreams of rehab and returning home were replaced by dreams of goosing the next CNA. He was funny and sweet and kind of a stinker in the best way.

I was helping him eat one day, as we gazed out the dining room window. With his one good hand, he grabbed my arm, yelling "Get back!" I stepped back, seeing nothing. "The crows! They're after you!" I tried to calm him, reassure him that the crows outside had no interest in us. He stared into my face intently, trembling and sweating, "They'll come after your eyes! They want different things from different people, but with you," he whispered, "it's the eyes." I turned my eyes away from the window in spite of myself.

The dining room fell silent. I heard one old lady whisper, "She has beautiful eyes."

When someone is set in a delusion, telling them it's not true only makes them more insistent, more panicked. I'd learned it was best to steer into the curve, agree and try to move on from the trouble. He wouldn't believe the crows were innocent, amusing birds. Nor would he even consider that he may have had a bad dream or watched bad TV. No, the crows were organized and angry, and someone had sent them.

I steered into it. The cops were taking care of it, I said, Nope, the crows got all the cops. I told him the FBI set up a sting operation and took out all the leaders. He considered a long moment, sipping the juice I'd given him in the off chance blood sugar was the culprit. He made me repeat my embellishment, and made me swear to wear sunglasses outside, especially near birds.

He passed away about a year ago, after recovering from whatever it was that made him so frightened. It's funny what sticks with me, though. I still wear sunglasses, and I'm always exceedingly polite to crows.

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