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old age

Old Age

When the phone rings at 2:30 a.m., it’s never good news. Monday morning, it was assisted living, saying that my in-law had fallen out of bed. An ambulance was called, and she was transported to the emergency room.

I got there around 7:45 a.m. The ER was like walking into Dante’s Hell. And this was the observation unit, not critical care. Three or four patients were on stretchers in the hallway. My relative, luckily, was in a cubicle, where a sour smell emanated from either her or her roommate.

The good news was she had no broken bones. However, her white blood cell count was high, and an infection suspected. Intravenous antibiotics were ordered but not yet administered. Meanwhile, she lay there bruised and unaware of her surroundings due to poor cognition. She looked small even though she’s not a small woman. Her arms trembled and her mouth opened and closed.

I did what I could to comfort her, with soothing words and touch. However, the experience brought back bad memories when I was a caregiver to a relative with dementia. This man, once a strong presence in my life, was reduced to a shell. Two weeks before he died, he smiled at me and reached for my hand. This was the first time in over two years that he acknowledged me. The next day, a nurse called and said he was ready for hospice.

This poem is gloomy, depressing and morose, but it expresses my feelings from the other day.

old age 2

Who will speak for me
When I’m unable?
Who will be there
When I’m not stable?

Who will hold my hand
When I’m alone?
Who will comfort me
As I lay prone?

Who will whisper
Into my ear,
“We love you, friend,
Oh so very dear?”

Who will stay close
And be by my side?
Sitting next to me
Along for this ride?

Who will touch me
With soft, sweet caresses?
Who will soothe me
With many blessings?

Who will be my guide
To the other side
To be with loved ones
Who’ve already arrived?

Who will miss me
When I’m gone?
Who will pray for me
With love so strong?

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