The Setting Sun

December 6, 2009
By Hopey BRONZE, Newmarket, Other
Hopey BRONZE, Newmarket, Other
1 article 0 photos 1 comment

Off the street
Out of my life
Into their rooms
To push their tired bodies in a mobile chair
Forward like soldiers must move forward
Like time must move forward
Visiting at the Long Term Care Facility

Yet lives long past lived
Smiles faded just as their generation did
Just as their families did
When visiting became too rough on the grandkids
And now seemingly ignored
Waiting for the moment in time to pass them by
So I’ll come by with quiet conversation
To stimulate their memories

The air seems thick and tight there
As tight as a young girl’s prom dress
Like the ones they used to wear
The kind in old pictures they point to and smile
When they wore grins while seated next to loved ones
The loved ones they can’t seem to recall
But they don’t give me smiles
Not that I blame them but
They give me December day glares
With eyes that tell there’s more going on
Than the face will reveal

So I attempt a smile
A smile somehow wilting as it falters
Flat on it’s face
Somewhere in the tight air between them and me
The quiet watery barely there smile
The one that travels alone down a one way street
That surely knows it’s heading towards a dead end
But smiles anyway
In the hopes that by chance it could be reciprocated
Waiting for their teeth to finally reunite

Their looks of resentment
As if the presence of young age only reminds them
Of the chair they’re tied to
Of the chair that clicks as they get pushed down the hallways
Of their dollars trickling away from their bank account
Their money saved used to buy them a room
In the hotel
Of no escape

Its just age
And yet the inevitability of it all seems impossible
From my life filled with windows of opportunity
To a place
Where really aren’t any windows

They’ll ask for a solution
That I don’t have
And they’ll ask for a way out
That I can’t give them
And then they’ll ask me for my name
When I’ve been seeing them for a month
So I’ll try not to ask how they’re doing
Or where their husband is
Or what they used to do
Or read
Or see
Because some of it’s just too painful to be reliving

They say that time moves quickly
A breath in and out and it’s gone
But their breathing has slowed to a crawl
As ragged as a child’s paper creations
Elongated deep inhalations breathing in the scent
Of permanent residency
Of cheap coffee
Spoiled bed sheets and antiseptic
Of memories written down kept somewhere that can’t be seen
Or touched
Of these family members forgotten
Because of the loss of the ability to hear
To remember
To speak
To be

But still, they have lived.
You’ll hear stories
Of how bright their setting sun once shone
Of a world so colourfully exploding
Then eroding
Leaving only the scraps behind
Like a rainbow that burst into pieces
That they gave up on trying to put back together
Finally coming to terms with that fact
That maybe the pot of gold never even existed

But they’ll tell you
Where they got that cactus in the corner
And who they called last week.
You’ll hear stories about the nurses
About the rude one who always yells
Or the roommate who screams at night
Having had nightmares of her spouse.
You’ll hear

And next week when I go back
I’ll watch as the slight woman in the crooked wheel chair
Struggles to put on the brakes
And it will suddenly dawn on me
As I go to help her
Prevent her from going forward
That maybe she just wants to stop
Maybe they all want to stop
But stopping isn’t a choice they can get off the drug cart
All I have to give is an ear to listen and a hand to hold

And then I’ll leave
The beat of their throbbing reality
Still distantly echoing
In my ears

The author's comments:
This poem was inspired by my volunteering experiences with the elderly. Teen Ink readers will benefit from the knowledge about old age homes from a high school student's perspective. Filled with sensuous detail and frank expression, this poem is moving gives the reader a first hand experience of the hardships of a nursing home.

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This article has 1 comment.

Whitley, A said...
on Jan. 11 2010 at 7:42 pm
Nice....Very nice

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