During that time we noticed that Stuart began trying to speak like a human. It was fun to listen as Stuart and Mark discussed worldly affairs, and there was always a treat delivered to Stuart by Mark at the end of these chats.
Lyn, my wife, and I were never a part of those discussions. We heard Stuart making strange noises that really sounded like he was attempting to speak words from the English language.
For several months after Mark moved to the Northside, we never heard Stuart try to speak. Then, on occasion, he attempted discussions with Lyn about going outside or his need for a tasty treat. I was never a part of any of those discussions.
A couple of years later that changed. One afternoon I was sitting in my favorite recliner chair, reading the latest issue of The Southsider Voice, when Stuart walked up to me and began trying to tell me something. I was shocked and surprised.
These discussions don’t happen often and mostly occur when Stuart’s treats or meals haven’t been provided at the proper time. Stuart never tried to talk anywhere but at home.
Last week Stuart and I headed out Tuesday morning for our usual visits with patients at a nursing home. This particular morning it was very cold and icy, so we moved quickly from the car to the building. Stuart enjoys routine and was a bit upset that we didn’t stop to inspect his favorite bushes on our way in as we normally do.
His next routine is to march to the receptionist’s desk and greet her excitedly. In return for his friendly greeting, he is always given a treat.
When we entered the lobby last week, Stuart noticed a problem. A resident, who is one of Stuart’s friends, was parked in his wheelchair at exactly the location that Stuart was going to claim his treat.
Stuart seemed a bit puzzled as to why his path was blocked so he took action.
All of a sudden he started speaking in human English (as well as he could) to the gentleman who was blocking his path. Stuart’s voice was solid and demanding. Everyone in the lobby stopped and focused on where those demands were originating. No one there had ever heard Stuart make this kind of vocal noise.
Not only did Stuart’s vocalization startle everyone in the lobby, staff from several close offices came to see what the strange noise was. After about two seconds of silence, the lobby burst into laughter.
As the laughter subsided, I took the opportunity to explain to the gentleman in the wheelchair (Danny) that I could translate Stuart’s comment to him.
Stuart had said, “ “Danny, get the h--- out of my way!”
I’m sure everyone in the building had several good laughs telling this story.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools.