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"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 ...

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