Waiting For Mr. Capote


Mr. Capote shares a room with Max and has the side with a window. It’s also the side with the television. I used to assume that the window side was reserved for V.I.P.’s (i.e., people with better insurance) but now I have no idea how the beds are assigned.

We want Mr. Capote to leave, so Max can have the window. I don’t want him to die, just to leave.

At first, Mr. Capote was just an obscure and disgusting nuisance.   He is 79 but looks   much older, with a bald bullet head and hunched posture. Every so often, he grunts “Son of a bitch!” with great feeling. No one comes to visit him. Ever.

Most of the nurses and aides have trouble with his name. They call him Mr. Caputo, Mr. Capoat, and at least once, Mr. Cooper. He never corrects them. He sits at the edge of his bed for hours at a time, dozing off and leaning sideways very precariously. He has breathing treatments and physical therapy.   I believe that the toes on one foot have been amputated. He pees in a big plastic bottle that he keeps on the tray where he eats.

For the first time in two weeks, a caretaker engaged him in conversation. He is from central California. In other words, he’s an actual person, not a thing to be warehoused in a gray room in a pretend hospital.

Today, I asked Mr. Capote if I could use the lounger chair that had migrated from Max’s bedside into Mr. Capote’s side of the room. He said “Sure, go ahead.” When I had trouble moving it due to my walker, he even made a move to get up and help me.   I told him, “No no no, I can do it. We don’t want you falling and ending up like me!”

Where is Mr. Capote’s fucking family?! I still want the window, but when Mr. Capote is discharged to god knows where, it will be a hollow victory.

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10 Responses to Waiting For Mr. Capote

  1. Aja says:

    Be his friend. You’re a good person. And he sounds like a real hoot (a disgusting one for sure). Missing you. xo.

  2. Alicia says:


    You may be the only person who talks to that man who isn’t administering some brand of care. Befriend this man and take down the Persian doctor.

  3. Juri says:

    If I live to be 79 I’ll probably end up being a Mr. Capote. I’m pretty sure about that. Learning to keep my pee bottle on a food tray will be a tough habbit to adopt but I’ve got time. And I can easily see myself grunting “Son of a bitch” and other Sonnets with a great passion.

  4. I need your Sea of Shoes loathing as the hospital stories are so sad and beguiling at the same time. I feel compelled to become his niece and visit but his ‘son of a bitch’ mantra is heartening, introduce him to your blog.

  5. Ann says:

    Hospitals make me sad. There are a lot of Mr. Capote’s in them.

    But wait. What sort of hospital allows a patient to keep a piss bottle on one’s eating tray? Jesus Christ, Max has got to get out of there.

    Love and much good stuff to you both, as ever.

  6. Jill says:

    This reminds me of when my grandfather was dying. I adored that man. By the time he ended up in the hospital…after Parkinson’s had stolen his identity and several strokes had destroyed his body…he was a shell of the man he used to be. The nurses treated him as such. I brought 10 photos of him when he was younger…laughing, drinking, BBQing, flexing (he was a boxer during his time as a MP in the army), playing with his homemade wine apparatus. They asked…”who is that man in the photos?” Oh Sister, this is making me cry. I loved him so much. The photos reminded them that he had been someone…someone loved.

    Be nice to Mr. Capote.

  7. andrea says:

    I totally understand where you are coming from, but Jill has an important point (which is not a criticism of you, it just made me think). When I was doing patient care, I used to make myself stop for a minute and try to look at the patients (especially the ones that were difficult or perhaps didn’t especially like) and remember that they once were loved, had loved, and had probably had interesting lives before they were “the patient in room so and so bed B.” It made me a better nurse.

    And, instead of having to wait for Mr. C to go, why don’t you request a move to another room next to the window and with a TV? Max must be going crazy not having a TV to watch and pass the time while he is recuperating. Or, if there is not one available for awhile, ask if you can bring a small TV from home if you have one, so he can watch what he wants.

    All my best wishes to you both, as always. xoxo

  8. OMGGMAB says:

    To hell with waiting for hospital adminbots to give Max a room with a view! Just ask Mr. Capote to switch sides with Max. He may do it just for a change of scenery. And what a state of confusion will exist when the staff discovers that Max has aged significantly in the last few hours. Never mind that they might want to explore the suddenly virile Mr. Capote in the window bed . . .

    Mr. Capote would be much happier if you would just accessorize him in a bitchin’ pair of boots, colorful scarf, and a 14k cigarette holder! I’m thinking he’d love some Liberache rings too. Use your best fashion know how on him, Sister.

    Serious wishes for your continued recovery, Sister and Max!

  9. JK says:

    “He pees in a big plastic bottle that he keeps on the tray where he eats.”

    Sounds too much like “Father Mackenzie.”

    Tell him, “JK says Hello.”

  10. hammie says:

    I try to be a good person but old man pyjamas and a funny shaped bottle you can pee in on a bedside table is testing me sorely.

    I think you should try to engage him in some stories, then make them into a flimsy but successful paperback – which will be followed by a movie deal. With Christopher Plummer.


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