Dementia or not, listen to seniors when they speak
Apple+ TV’s “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey” brings back bittersweet family members
Writer’s note: This post was originally published on Medium’s “We Need to Talk” on April 11, 2022.
In my high school and college days, I’d go to the library and get lost in a Walter Mosley (or Langston Hughes) novel, entertained by opinionated elderly men that often reminded me of my grandfather. Occasionally there’d be a woman among the characters who reminded me of other relatives, too. So I was delighted to find out Samuel L. Jackson was starring in the Apple TV+ mini-series “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey.” My only problem? I’m about three milliseconds from punching my TV screen.
I was one of those kids who found people my age to be mostly dumb. I couldn’t learn anything from them, so I didn’t want to be around them. For me, the older, the better. I spent many many days during my childhood hanging out with my parents’ chain-smoking landlord (who loved to play Solitaire and cook meatless spaghetti for her nephew), or in the flower garden with my equally older next-door neighbor. I had no interest in gardening at the time; I just wanted to hear her stories.
Even as I grew older, I still wanted to be around anyone who was older and wiser. If AARP was sending you a bunch of junk mail, you were a friend I needed. I still feel very strongly that people should hang out with their elders. Although I’m a bit of a smart mouth and definitely had a few disagreements with some older relatives, a casual glance at any of my photo albums proves that’s who I always wanted to call or hang out with in person, including my Girl Scouts leader every Christmas Day.
Spoiler alert about “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey”: You can just about imagine how I felt when his nephew Hilly stole money from Ptolemy Grey. What kind of lowlife steals money from old people? Even worse, there was an equally manipulative elderly lady at a bank trying to hustle the elderly man into paying her electricity bill. For me, this was worse than watching a car crash. After the nephew handed him his money, Ptolemy Grey pointed out that he was used to getting $300 but only got $100. He said it at the bank and when they arrived at a family member’s home. Too many people just ignored him and assumed he was making it up. Why? He has dementia. Spoiler alert ends.