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Apr 21, 2004

Blue Skies


North Carolina Neurosciences Hospital

Last month my friend "Hal" was involuntarily committed to the geriatric mental ward at UNC, where patients don't leave until a doctor says so. The ward's solid wood door is deadbolted shut. Visitors are logged and tagged so the staff knows who gets to leave when they want to, and who has to stay inside.

On Hal's last day, I helped him collect his clothes and meds, and the paperwork for his followup visit. One of the nurses hugged him goodbye before seating him in a wheelchair. Another cut off his patient ID bracelet and unlocked the door. As I wheeled Hal out of the ward, two more nurses waved through the reception window and blew him kisses which he returned with great flourishes.

Outside, Hal asked for a cigarette. It had been two weeks since he'd left home in the back of an ambulance.

12:01 AM in Weblogs | Permalink


what a wonderful photo to accompany this story. best of luck to hal...

Posted by: christa | Apr 21, 2004 10:50:34 AM

Sorry to hear that things got rough for Hal, but glad to hear he was so well taken care of. And, yes, beautiful picture.

Posted by: Jerry | Apr 21, 2004 11:41:47 AM

That is a beautiful photo - and it's heartening to hear that a departing patient gets kisses blown in his direction.

Posted by: pinky | Apr 21, 2004 9:29:17 PM

Thanks for the kind comments. I just talked to Hal by phone, and we've made plans for lunch early next week -- to talk over many things, including his ideas for starting a "gray gays" social group for elderly gay men.

Posted by: Phil | Apr 21, 2004 10:03:37 PM

"Gray gays" is the coolest name. I am glad Hal is feeling better.

Posted by: She-Dork | Apr 21, 2004 10:57:29 PM