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: