The Old Man Who Yells

At first, he stood on his porch, yelling at the world, but mostly just irritated his neighbors.

Then he moved out to his lawn, and no, he wasn’t chasing the neighborhood kids, they avoided his side of the street altogether.

Written off as a curmudgeon with a screw or two missing, the old man seemed to have no friends. No one came to visit. No one said hello to him. His connection with the outside world was limited at best.

He gradually stopped caring for his lawn and it grew and grew. No one said anything. Finally, someone called the city and a codes inspector came out to view the property.

A notice to abate went unanswered and was turned over to the municipal court. He did not appear in court, so the judge ordered his property to be mowed by a city contractor and the amount billed to the old man.

The bill was not paid and sent for collection. A process server is dispatched. The old man comes to the door, but he makes no sense. Rambling and incoherent, he must be out of his mind. At first, the process server is taken aback. The passion in the old man’s words and hand motions appear threatening, but the process server sees through it. Something is amiss, but this is not his area of expertise.

The process server calls the public health agency for help. A social worker and nurse visit. The man is transported to a hospital for examination. He is cooperative, but very confused. Suddenly, as it a dark cloud disappears into the sky, the old man’s behavior changes.

The old man became talkative, even friendly. Slowly, his story was revealed.

He has been off his medication. After his wife died, the old man’s health declined and he stopped taking his medications.

His kids were scattered across the country enveloped in their own lives. His own life began to unravel, as no one noticed. He slid into bouts of depression and increased confusion as reality disappeared for growing stretches of time.

A caseworker was assigned by the health department who would look in on him. He was eligible for meals to be delivered and a nurse would stop by to check his vitals and discuss his medications. The city recreation department contacted him about enrolling in an exercise program at the nearby community center. The social worker talked to a few of the neighbors who agreed to reach out to him. One of the neighborhood teenagers was hired to cut his grass and shovel the snow in winter. In conversation, the young man found out the old man plays cards and agreed to teach the boy and his friends some card games. They now play every week.

The neighbors do not hear any more yelling, just the sound of hello neighbor.


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