Monday, June 10, 2013

Bigamy, Anyone?

I am a bigamist, apparently.

It all began innocently enough, with a visit to the nursing home where my mother in law and father in law reside.

My husband carefully pulled open the massive front doors to the home while he balanced the new antler mount from the last buck he got at the end of the season. He knew his dad would be excited to see it.

I followed closely, tucking my phone into my purse.

The excitement generated by my husband's antler mount so energized the roomful of elderly men lounging in the day room, most raised on the rural ranches nearby, that it was as if they had plugged themselves into a wall socket. I completely lost sight of him as they flocked round, reliving their own memories of hunting while admiring his nine pointer.

The nurse informed me that both my in-laws were in for their shower, so I settled into one of the sturdy chairs in the lobby to await my rock star hunter.

I thought no one was near until I heard a slight shuffling approaching from behind. The distinctive ooh's I heard before I turned verified it was Juan, a man in his late sixties who had lost most of his speech and lived in a world partly with us and partly known only to him.

Every visit we made he greeted me and only me. He wanted nothing to do with my husband and soon my family joked he was my boyfriend because of his hyperbolic animation at the sight of me.

This time was no exception. He stared me straight in the eye, his face softened, and he sighed loudly. "Ahhh, ahhhh, ah-ah-ah-ah," as he patted his heart and fluttered his hands before it.

I smiled in return and greeted him simply in Spanish. He usually shook my hand and sometimes tried to kiss it, but this time he had a sheaf of papers and a pen in one hand, his cane in the other.

Very purposefully, he looked at the crowd that was now beginning to finally thin around my husband. Juan's face hardened as he shuffled over. I couldn't hear what was spoken, but I did see him put the pen in my husband's hand and hold out the papers, as if to get him to sign. After much back and forth, my husband scribbled something on the paper and made his way to me.

I raised my eyebrows as we made our way down the hall to his parents' room. "I don't know what that was about, but it seemed to make him happy that I signed the paper, which looked to be random letters and a few words," my husband explained. "He also drew what looked like a heart, too."

Later, on our way out, I hustled down the hall to a small break room to get a bottle of water from the vending machine for the trip home. I shoved money in and punched the water button when a small rasping sound from behind the door caught my ear. I turned in time to see the door slowly closing, Juan pushing it.

The usually bare table against the wall looked as if it had been set, though differently. Paper napkins from the cafeteria delineated two place settings, one with a knife on each side and the other with a fork and spoon. A juice carton from breakfast headed both place settings. A vase with a plastic rose, of the ones they used in each room on the dresser, adorned the middle of the table.

Juan swept his arm expansively, gesturing for me to sit. I showed him my water and told him in Spanish and English we were about to leave, but the table looked lovely. His hands fluttered near his heart again and he gestured again for me to sit.

The door creaked open and my husband appeared, causing Juan to crease his face into a frown. He pulled the same paper my husband signed out and held it front of my husband.

At that moment, a nurse also entered and Juan animatedly spoke his language with her, shaking the paper and pointing to it often.

She looked over his shoulder at me, nodded, and smiled, even as another nurse came in and helped Juan back down the hall to his room.

"Oh, Juan," she said as she shook her head. "He thinks you," and she pointed to my husband, "gave up your rights to your wife," and  she pointed to me, "when you signed that paper. He also thinks you, " and she pointed to me again, "are now married to him."

My husband looked at me and carefully considered for a moment. "Hon, would it be big a me to allow you to live in bigamy?"

I pinched his arm and laughed as we headed back down the hall.


104 comments:

  1. First of all, I'm sure that I would also be rendered speechless in your presence, dear Shelly. :) Secondly, I checked with a lawyer friend and learned that the paper your husband signed is legally binding! (LOL) That's so funny. I hope Juan doesn't have a broken heart knowing that he can't have you. I'm thinking he might try to pull that same routine on any attractive woman who ever visits the facility. What do you think? Thank you, dear Shelly, and have a wonderful week ahead!

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    1. Shady: I'm sure he has a trove of girlfriends from all the women who visit! It was so funny how he had that little table all set...for once, I was speechless! Thank you for always stopping by, my friend, and I hope your week is hurricane free and wonderful-

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    1. Terra: Very sweet men- both my husbands!

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  3. That's so sweet. We had a gentleman at the nursing home who like the ladies. A nurse and I each allowed him one little kiss per evening. Then one night he tried to stick his tongue in my mouth! That was his last kiss. Boy, Juan has sure lost his heart to you.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Janie: Oh my goodness!!!! Ack! Juan's only tried kissing my hand, and that's as far as he will get. I have the feeling he was quite the ladies' man outside the home~

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  4. Jaun knows a good thing when he sees it and I am sure your husband is a tad bit jealous. I love Shady Del Knights comment he sounds like a charmer much like I imagine Jaun was and apparently still is:) Great story Shelly I really enjoyed it. B

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    1. Buttons: Yes, he is quite the romantic, and I think one of the ladies who is a resident there really likes him, so hopefully the two of them will hit it off! Thank you- hope your lovely world is going well!

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  5. Oh, that's so sweet and heartbreaking at the same time.

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    1. Say What?: Yes, it really was heart achingly sweet. Bless their hearts-

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  6. This is soooo well-written that I laughed out loud.

    When I volunteered at a nursing home, one of the patients thought he was in his 20's and I was his wife. "You do look like her picture," a nurse said. It was hilarious.

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    1. Elisa: I think Juan does that same thing- transfers an image he has of a wife or girlfriend onto me. And yours thought he was in his 20's- too cute! Well, sometimes I think I'm in my 20's....

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  7. :-)

    I have a bus husband, you have a nursing home husband.

    You and me? We still got it. :-)

    Lovely.

    Pearl

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    1. Pearl: Who said life when you hit 50 is boring? And I've no doubt, my friend, that in 50 more years, you will still have it. :)

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  8. Another heartwarming story. I always look forward to your posts because you have such a talent for revealing character. Have a great week.

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    1. Stephen: Ah, thank you, my friend!

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  9. A sweet story yet sad ... bittersweet might be the best way to describe it. Thanks again, Shelly, for sharing your writing talent with us with this heartwarming story. I could not help but laugh at some of the comments you received.

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    1. Cindy: Yes, it's a sad situation to be there, but he seems to live life as fully as he can...and I'm thinking he has other girlfriends out there, too! I love the comments, yours included!

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  10. That is so sweet, especially how the table was all laid out for two. Poor Juan! I hope he's not TOO heartbroken that you had to leave with your first husband. I hope that you manage to bring a bit of brightness into his life. Sending blessings your way my friend.

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    1. thisisme: I'm sure Juan is going to move on to other women, hopefully one there in the nursing home with him! Thank you, friend~

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  11. Every time I read one of your posts it reminds me of the stories my Grammy used to tell me. This is one of my favorites. I've always had a soft spot for the elders. I couldn't help but laugh. :)

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    1. Cathy: I consider that a very high compliment- thank you! I, too, love the elderly~

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  12. My favorite people in the whole wide world are children and the elderly! Cute post!!

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    1. Saimi: They are the purest souls on earth~

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  13. Poor Juan it must be hard for him to see "his wife" with another man..............you heartbreaker you...........lol

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    1. Jo-Anne: I'm sure he's already found another (at least I hope he has!)

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  14. Oh, that is adorable! And lucky you, having two adoring husbands.

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    1. Kellie: I don't know how I'll keep up with two!

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  15. Oh, I love it. You have an admirer. So Juan thinks your husband signed away his status as your spouse so he can step in and sweep you off your feet with romantic gestures? Very sweet. I'm sure seeing you makes his day each time. :-)

    Two adoring husbands. You're a lucky lady!

    Be well...

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    1. Janette Dolores: It was so sweet, funny, and a little weird, all at the same time! I'm thinking (hoping) he will have another girlfriend by the time we go again! Have a terrific week~

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  16. What a dear man that knew exactly wanted...your heart. He knew that he had to ask your husband first though. Wise man. :) That is so sweet but I hope he finds someone unattached to find a spark with.

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    1. Simone: Oh, I hope he finds someone more suitable! There a a number of ladies who already live at the home for him to choose from. Juan must have been quite the romantic in his younger days~

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  17. Dearest Shelly,
    How lovely he is and all the procedures he has stepped for you. He must have a wonderful eyes to know the people♡♡♡ I wish he doesn't have much understanding level to know the reality. I guess you must be confounded how to react him. My husband seems to try to speak to other older people with not bothering level for cheering up their mind.
    Thinking my father's situation, I wonder why people should change like my father. I don't know how Mr. Juan's mental state now. But my father who used to be kind of all-mighty (for me, hehe) and deft at everything and caring man has... Haha, so hard for his beloved daughter(^^;)
    I DO hope your parents-in-laws are doing fine, my friend!

    Sending you lots of love and hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

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    1. orchid: The aging process of the mind is still such a great mystery and so unpredictable, isn't it, my dear friend? It is so difficult when they change so drastically and aren't anything near like what we grew up with. I do hope your sweet father is doing better and that you have been able to get some rest. What a wonderful daughter you are to him!

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  18. How sweet, and touching. May I come visit you both in jail? LOL??? I'm sure you will be a very lovely wife to both your fellas and may have found what you need to fill your hours of retirement!
    Hugs~And I'm still smiling...

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    1. Sush: Ha! I knew I could count on you to come see me! I don't think it's my retirement calling, though. I do hope Juan finds another girlfriend, and soon!

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  19. Be sure and let us know where your Bridal Registry is - Walgreens or CVS?! That really is a sweet story, though. And maybe he's on to something: forget messy divorces, just sign away your rights. Next thing we know lawyers will stop chasing ambulances and hang out in nursing homes! Great story. -- Jan

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    1. Jan: Ha! Definitely an old school way of doing it! I do hope he finds someone suitable, though- he has the heart of a true romantic!

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  20. Oh, groan, what a line your husband said! HaHa!

    I think that's such a sweet story.

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    1. Theresa: That's why I pinched him so hard!

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  21. What a fun story for you! I worked for several years as the evening charge nurse on the alzheimer's unit of our nursing home. I have such great stories from that time! There were always several romeos wandering the halls!

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    1. Felt Family: Once a Romeo, always a Romeo! Ha! I would love to hear some of your stories- those are definitely not dull places at all!

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  22. Like others before have said this is sweet, sad, funny all in one. This reminded me of my own family's story: Once while my dad was hospitalized we met this guy who had Alzheimer's. Every time he saw someone from my family he would tell us we stole his horse and will drag us to court. We're still chuckling how he wagged his finger at us and emphatically said, "And what you don't know, I have the papers to prove it!"

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    1. Linda: Oh, and what to do when they're so convinced with something but just nod and smile, right? No amount of arguing or explaining changes their minds, either. Bless their hearts~

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  23. Too funny! I guess your husband didn't read the fine print. ;0)

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    1. Sherry: For my sake, I do hope he becomes more astute at that!

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  24. Dear Shelly, like all of us who follow your words, Juan recognizes the beauty of your being and he follows you in the halls of his home. He is, I believe, an astute human being. Peace.

    PS: I don't know if you get notification of the comments left on your blog, but if not, I'd like you to know that I left a rather lengthy comment for you after your Monday, June 3, posting. Peace.

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    1. Dee: Oh, thank you, my friend! Juan is a special person with a loving heart. I do hope he finds someone, since that seems to be his desire, to be his sweetheart.

      I'm headed over to that posting now- thank you!

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  25. As others have said - funny and sad at the same time. I have seen this at my father's nursing home. The attention can sometimes becomes quite unwanted, and the Romeo can get his feelings hurt. I hope Juan can transfer his affection to a more suitable candidate. When my dad first arrived at his nursing home, I ate lunch with him sometimes, and one of his table mates used to tell me over and over how pretty I was (he had dementia and a memory problem). The first time, it was touching, the second through tenth times it was funny, and after that I just wanted to crawl under the table!

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    1. jenny_o: I think he was just stating the obvious, but nevertheless, I can see how it would get old very quickly! And there are a number of single women at this nursing home, so I do hope Juan can find a lady love for himself, and hopefully soon!

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    2. I feel I MUST correct any misperception I've created - I'm midway through my fifties, starting to grey, and ... pleasingly plump ... as the oldsters used to say - FAR from pretty! I wonder what he was seeing? I do smile a lot, maybe that was it :)

      Yes, Juan needs a lady love SOON!!

      I love your husband's play on words - that's the kind of thing my husband would say. I shall have to take to pinching him when he does, haha

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    3. jenny_o: Although I've never seen a picture of you, I have a feeling you judge yourself too harshly! But I do agree kindness shines brightly, and smiling certainly seems to offer all kinds of unintended invitations (as in Juan's case!).

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  26. Juan knows a good woman when he sees one. He would be lucky to have you! Very sweet. I`m glad your husband could make so many men happy with his antlers. That`s great.

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    1. Belle: He is the soul of sweetness, and I do hope he finds someone, and soon! And oh, I wish you could have seen those men's eyes light up when they saw those antlers- like they had become boys again!

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  27. Poor Juan. Please do visit often and make him happy for the time he has in this world.

    Nas

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    1. Nas: I know we will see him each time we visit, and so it will be next week. He always has a smile~

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  28. OMG, really? What a story. You can't make that stuff up!

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    1. Lydia: I didn't even include all of what happened because it would have been too long, but much more goes on in a nursing home (especially that one) than people might think!

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  29. Many great stories (fiction or fact) are bittersweet. This is one of them. Sweet, sad and awesomely written. I really enjoyed it.

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    1. Pat: The good thing about Juan is I think he still has such a sturdy self confidence that he fully believes in his Romeo capacities. And I'm glad for that. Thank you!

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  30. OMG! He is truly and completely smitten and will not give up, you heart-breaker you! ;)

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    1. Rita: I so hope he has found someone new by the next time we visit!

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  31. Juan knows a truly lovely and loving woman when he sees one! What a sweet and sad post. It made me very grateful to be 68 and healthy. I hope his delusion brings him happiness and peace!

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    1. Dr. Kathy: I, too, feel a healthy dose of gratefulness after our visits. I only hope that by our next visit, he will have found a new girlfriend there in the home!

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  32. Poor Juan!!! His heart probably broke in two that day. But your husband sharing you with another man...well now, that's a whole 'nother story. [insert wink] I would think the water wouldn't be enough, I'd need something a bit 'harder' on the way back home. A shot of tequila and lime, with a story like that to tell. LOL

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    1. HOOTIN ANNI: Ha! I'm hoping Juan has forgotten all about me and has moved his attention to one of the number of ladies that live there, where his sweet romantic gestures could be more appreciated!

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  33. While I read this story, I also "watched" it as if I were a fly on the wall. There's more drama in the nursing home than we realize! Life and unrequited love keep happening, even when our bodies and our brains don't function the way they used to.

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    1. Jenny: Oh, drama I never realized! My eyes have really been opened since we've been going here on a very regular basis and have gotten to know some of the residents on more than just a visit basis. I would never have guessed!

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  34. HAHAHA! That's hilarious! What a mix up!

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    1. Julie: I just seemed to sink deeper and deeper into it, too!

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  35. Bless his heart! What a sweet and sad story. Having worked in our senior outreach ministry at church, I have seen so many who are just lost and lonely in those places. Glad your in-laws have each other there. Will be interesting to hear how your next visit goes.

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    1. Nonnie: It is such a great thing that my in-laws can be in the same room together. It would be very hard on them to be apart, so we're grateful that at least they can have that. And yes, bless Juan's heart, I hope he finds a suitable woman soon!

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  36. The two of you were quite a hit that day! What will you do for an encore? :)

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  37. That is such a sweet story! Poor Juan, watching his lady love leave with another man, even after making you his wife and everything. Now that you are retired, maybe you will have time for a second husband!

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    1. Amy: Ha! Not exactly fitting any of the retirement plans I have made...

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  38. Very flattering and sweet in way, but sort of sad too.

    Is there really such a custom anywhere, where this can be done. Loved reading about the excitement among the patients about your husband's hunting success.

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    1. Maria: It was very sweet, although unlike anything I have ever experienced. I hope it is not a custom anywhere! And yes, it was fun to see those fellows so excited. My husband's going to take some of the other mounts the next time we go~

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  39. Great story, certainly has to be a true story. Your husband is not only patient, he is quick with wordplay. I love it.

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    1. vanilla: And there's even more to the story of Juan I didn't write because it was too long! And yes, the hubby does have an ear for wordplay~

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  40. What a story! Very sweet--but I wonder what will happen when Juan sees you on your next visit?

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    1. Maria: I am going to send my family in first to be sure he is not in the lobby!

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  41. Ps...me again.
    Just to let you know, Bud was between me and the alligator. roflmao

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    1. HOOTIN ANNI: Ha! That is some measure of comfort!

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  42. Oh my gosh Shelly! both sad and a little bit alarming, as well as being a real hoot! I hope he has forgotten by the next time you visit! :D

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  43. Jenny: Oh, I so hope he has, too!

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  44. My mom was in a nursing home a few years before she died and I saw a lot of things.
    I also heard some remarkable stories. I never got hitched, but there were a couple of women that had their eye on me

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    1. Rick: Those nursing homes are apparently a hotbed of romance. I never knew that before these experiences!

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  45. Both sweet and sad at the same time. It made me smile though. You made quite the impression on Juan it seems - that was a quick courtship!! Have a great weekend :)

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    1. Optimistic Existentialist: Much too quick! I hope he forgets me quickly!

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  46. Awwwwww, Shelly, you broke his heart! Your husband has such a great sense of humor! Hopefully by the next time you visit, he will have forgotten that he "married" you!!!

    (I'm sneaking reading a few of my favorite blogs today!)

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    1. Jamie: So good to see you! I so hope that by the next time I visit, Juan will have moved on to other things!

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  47. How very sweet! You seem to have made quite an impression!

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    1. Roshni: I do hope he forgets me very soon!

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  48. LOL, Funny and touching at the same time.
    We all have feelings and we are fascinated by others sometimes. It is when we see some one more than once and find out that it was not just fascination - - - oh oh, I am kidding.
    We are all level headed at this point in our lives.

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    1. Munir: Ha! I do hope we are all level headed, especially Juan, by the next time we visit there~

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  49. Awww this is so cute but I feel so sorry for Juan....he really likes you!

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    1. menopausal mama: I hope he has found a new object for his affections the next time we go!

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  50. Hilarious!! Cute too, yet... poor Juan! I often think of collaborating a post from the events in my my mother's nursing home. One day I might. Won't be as good as this!

    xx Jazzy

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    1. jazzygal: My goodness- those nursing homes host dramas just like soap operas! I'm sure you would do a fine job!

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