“Davidson! That tree is flying! It’s going to crash into your house,” Gary warned me. “You’re right, Mr. Franklin, and here, it’s coming in for a landing,” I replied with calm reserve.
Gary Franklin has dementia. He has been my next-door neighbor since I was seven years old. He has never called me David, my real name. He insists upon calling me Davidson. He often has a listless expression on his face, suggesting that not much is going on up there. In fact, Gary Franklin, a former financial banker, is a mathematical genius. I’m certain he can still do Sudoku puzzles in his sleep. The unfortunate fact is that instead of seeing an incredibly intelligent man, outsiders see only a blank skull controlling a small feisty being.
Gary Franklin could not hurt a fly. He stands at 5 ft. 8 in. and weighs in at about 160 pounds. People don’t pay much attention to Mr. Franklin, mostly because they don’t want to. The aides at his nursing home neglect him and take a surprisingly hostile approach to calming him. Such hostility and confusion once led him to hold a male nurse hostage with a rubber knee-reflex hammer. In turn, the “aides” called the police and threatened to press charges. While the charges were eventually dropped, that sort of methodology seems all too simplified. Human beings are humans whether they are five years old or seventy-five years old. Human beings are humans whether they are wealthy, active financial bankers or bedridden hospital patients. With the onset of the later stages of the illness looming, there will certainly be some ensuing challenges. Mr. Franklin may very well forget who I am, or where he is. But that is no excuse for simply forgetting a human being