"I want Evelyn!" a wizened, wheelchair-trapped man shouted.
I had come to visit one of my parishioners at the nursing home.
"I want Evelyn!" the old man with a two-day-old beard moaned. His left hand and foot were immobile, twisted unnaturally on his lap. With his right foot, he was pushing his wheelchair in ever-larger circles.
Now he was weeping. "Please give me Evelyn. Won't someone give me Evelyn?"
Come on, I thought, as the busy, expressionless nurses filled out their paperwork, why don't you get Evelyn?
Later I discovered that Evelyn, the old man's wife, had died fifteen years ago.
Welcome to the Allegheny County Nursing Home.
I had come to see Betty, a member of my church for over fifty years. After she broke her hip, her absent family-suddenly present-placed her in a ten-by-fourteen room with faded plastic flowers and an indelible stench of urine. She would spend the rest of her life helping the old man look for Evelyn-and staring out her window at a playground whose nimble children she ...1