Friday, January 6, 2012

Like layers of a withered rose

     They wheeled her wheelchair into the waiting room and found a spot near the corner to park it. The television was on, and several people, including myself were waiting to be called back to see the doctor.  I hadn't thought to grab a book from home, and none of the magazines in the place were appealing, so I found myself observing.

     The woman's hair hadn't been combed in the back.  I had no idea her approximate age, but it was obvious she wasn't a spring chicken.  Then she began talking.  She focused on the two women closest to her, much to their dismay.  One of them chose to play with her phone, either texting or pretending to...while the other woman responded in short, one word answers.   Just when it would get quiet again, the elderly woman would ask them another question.  Had they heard the "candy bar poem"? As they shook their heads no, she began to recite a cute little poem that I could only hear bits and pieces of.
     People began looking up, kind of rolling their eyes as if to silently thank goodness they weren't the ones being bombarded with small talk.  Even the receptionist looked up a few times and laughed out loud as we exchanged glances.  I'm ashamed to admit that I was grateful I'd sat clear across the room and therefore could sit in peace.

    We all had a long wait though, and the longer I sat there the more I evesdropped on the old woman's conversations.  I guess they weren't really conversations because they were completely one-sided and I began to be embarrassed.  Not for her.  For US.   For everyone else in that room.  This was obviously someone who was ALONE.  She was waiting solo---nobody had accompanied her to the dr's. office that day.  She was probably lonely, for crying out loud.  Why didn't ANY of us ask her if she wanted to be turned around so she could view the television, or offer to bring her a cup of water or coffee, a magazine from the rack or just put that phone down and actually engage in a conversation with her??

     Why?  It certainly wouldn't have changed our wait time.  I heard her say she was 90-something.  That could be ME someday, I thought.  If I'm fortunate to live that long, I hope I'm not sitting somewhere and people are making fun of me for merely wanting to strike up conversation.  We should value our aging population instead of ignoring them.  I'm of the belief that each generation has wisdom to impart----we just have to be open to it. 

     That elderly woman represented someone's mother/sister/aunt/grandmother.  One doesn't reach maturity without learning something along the way; if we take the time to peel back some of those layers, what lies beneath may intrigue us more than we thought possible.

     They may just want to tell you a funny poem, though.  Either way, there isn't much to lose by listening.  Here's the "candy bar" poem that this dear woman shared.  I apologize in advance if it offends anyone:



  1. Hi there.
    My son went to a nursing home before Christmas as part of a service project. It simply broke his heart that a 30-something mom with autism was there with no one to talk to. She told him that she does not see her daughter anymore because someone else is raising her. He's still bothered by it, enough that he has asked to go back to visit. He's a wise 14 year old.

    This post tears at my heart. I hope we begin to see others not through our own eyes, but through God's. The world needs a bit more love.

    Thanks for sharing this post.

  2. The poem is cute! On the subject of the elderly lady, I would have been the one talking to her. I love the elderly population and used to work in nursing homes as a CNA and later in activities. They are so full of knowledge, and I love to learn from them. She reminds me a wonderful lady I used to care for who would sing at the top of her lungs, rhyme her words when she talked and taught me to sing some old fashioned songs. Soon enough, (I hope) I will be one of them!

  3. Thank you, Karen, for stopping by again. I very much agree with you---the world needs MORE love. That would solve SO much. Really.

  4. Katlupe, those elderly folks who share your company are very fortunate! I wish more people shared our views; everyone has value and that certainly doesn't end at a particular age. Some societies have it right concerning the aged; we'd do well to take a few lessons from them.

  5. PJ said...

    I loved your post! I clean house for an elderly man. He will be 90 on his upcoming birthday. He is as sharp as a tack, but tends to repeat himself. I love listening to his war-stories from WWII. I may hear the same stories over and over again, but I enjoy them just as though I had heard them for the first time,I guess because I think so much of him.

    In the beginning I was cleaning houses for 9 elderly people, but unfortunately, they have dwindled and I'm down to two elderly and one younger person.

    I am constantly aware that that will be me in a blink of an eye I'm 58, and I totally believe that "what goes around, comes around", so I do try my best to treat others (young and elderly) the way I would like to be treated.

    God Bless you and yours,

  6. Thank you so much, PJ. I love whenever I write something that strikes a chord in someone else. You definitely have the right perspective and those folks are so blessed to have you in their lives!
    Happy New Year to you!