Jul 03

Chronicle from the Old Folks’ Home—Part 8

In Brief—The author describes another ripple in the usually calm waters of the Old Folks’ Home.

An Old Woman Helpless on the Ground—

“Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

It sounds like a hackneyed line from an old television commercial. We used to laugh at the line. It became a joke. But this was no laughing matter, no joke.

Sign (head-on)I was stepping through the outer door in the expectation of taking a quiet walk in the back yard and sitting in the warm sunshine that was often absent in early June. This was an unusually warm day. Time to take advantage of the warmth. Unfortunately, my plans were derailed.

She was a small, normally cheerful white-haired woman I had seen and greeted before as we passed one another on the paved walkway. Now, she was sprawled on the flagstones behind her walker and I was the only person in sight. She appealed to me for help. I rushed to her. Even this close to the incident, I don’t recall how I made it to the woman from my walker, but there I was.

I’m no longer as strong as I once was and she weighed more than I ever would have guessed. I remembered to set the brakes on her walker, grasped her under the arms and struggled to lift her. It didn’t work. She was dead weight and her arms were not strong enough to keep her from slipping through my hands. It was almost as if she was glued to the ground and had no joints. I just couldn’t lift her.

I had no sooner paused to assess the situation than another old woman, more mobile than most, appeared and tried to help me lift the fallen woman. No go. As we paused, five alert personnel members rushed from the building and took over. In a matter of seconds they had the woman on her feet and immediately whisked her into the building. Feeling inadequate, useless as tits on a boar and somewhat shaken, I watched until they disappeared into the building. The other old woman disappeared with them. Sitting calmly was impossible now, so I finished my exercise walk, returned to my room and began to write.

Reality Intrudes—

From time to time I have said that the Old Folks’ Home is a warehouse for the aged and demented. That’s my honest opinion. At the same time, I have learned to understand Alzheimer’s, other forms of dementia and old age. But today something different taught me a little more about the warehouse we live in. It’s not just demented old folks, sameness and Bengt, but old women who fall and show me that I’m not the man I thought I was. It was a spectral finger from the future tapping me on the shoulder to remind me that I’m mortal with a looming expiration date.

I remember patched jeans, a strong, muscular body and young women bowing to my ego. I recall heaving heavy logs into a roaring kiln fire, emerging from the surf, tanned and glistening. Now, I look in the mirror and see an old man looking back at me. But today an old woman showed me that the memories of times past are just memories now.

There’s the fog creeping in silently to strangle synapses. It’s getting more frequent lately. Is this what it’s like? Billions before me have passed this way, but this is my first time. I don’t know what comes next. Time marches on—sounds like an old newsreel…but it’s reality. Falling is a reality. Weakness is reality.

Have I said that nothing ever happened here? Today, something happened.

Shocking Update—Cecil, the Lion, isn’t the only animal in Africa in critical danger of extinction, every animal on the continent may soon be lost. Readers may recall my blog piece “The Lion, the Hunter and Human Nature” that can be found in the August 2015 Archives. Click here to read this important update. Is humanity next?



Skip to comment form

    • Elodie Pritchartt on July 3, 2016 at 16:11

    Don, I’m so sorry. That was the thing that was hardest on my father, losing his strength. I’ve heard testosterone replacement might help but that comes with risks, as well. In the meantime, I’ll always see you as the trim, handsome man who hired me at ABC and whom I admired from afar.

      • Don Bay on July 3, 2016 at 17:49

      Thanks for the memories and for your good thoughts. As for testosterone, the risks outweigh the benefits. Jeez, but the time has flown by! The moral to that story is that we shouldn’t waste a minute.

  1. Don Great article; touched my heart.
    I would like to publish it in the “Hyp News”. Do I have your permission?
    Love Always

      • Don Bay on July 3, 2016 at 17:42

      Permission granted. Thanks for the strokes and for asking.

    • Dave Meyers on July 3, 2016 at 17:47

    The once mighty dinosaur is now the common barnyard chicken. The wonder of youth gives way to the pessimism of age. Every civilization runs it’s coarse and fades away. Every heavenly body is formed from dust and returns to dust in time. Every journey starts at the beginning, but surly reaches the end.
    In the case of we humans, our strengths diminish along the route, our beauty fades,our achievements pass into history. And, we realize that we are part of the great cycle. We witness it, but have a hard time accepting it.
    Everything is in flux on this planet and in the universe. Someday it will all be gone. We are witness to the decline, but can not stop it.
    Taking in every moment, loving as hard and true as we can, enjoying the rewards of the gift of life………and staying vertical along the way, is the primary goal.

      • Don Bay on July 3, 2016 at 19:19

      You put it beautifully. We will all be part of the evolving universe even if the getting there is painful during our brief stay. I wish you well on your journey.

  2. Well done friend. We do what we can with what we have, and as that diminishes we grieve and soldier on. And sharing it with the rest of us old crocks helps both you and the rest of us. We listen to your sadness, and we recognize our own sadness, but we all do what we can. So thanks for trying and thanks for sharing.

      • Don Bay on July 4, 2016 at 06:48

      Thanks for the support. Part of my frustration is that circumstances confine me to scribbling my little blog instead of contributing to the betterment of the world as you and Chris are doing. You are active while I’m reactive. You’re the ones who deserve the applause. Keep doing what you are doing for as long as you can…and I’ll keep scribbling.

    • Linda on July 15, 2016 at 01:16

    Oh, Don…don’t you know you are contributing to the betterment of the world by being you? Through your blog, your thoughtful insights help stimulate minds. This can lead to motivation and action, right? I truly believe that each of us can affect change. You did this in a big way when you were with the ACLU. But, honestly for me the world changes significantly when we all do are part in ways that seem small but maybe are not, daily. How comforting it must have been for the fallen woman that you came to her aid. She was no longer alone. I can imagine her level of fear and anxiety dropped when you reached her. You are still that same, handsome, intelligent, kind and generous soul I met many years ago.

      • Don Bay on July 15, 2016 at 13:07

      You are such a smooth talker that I’m glad you are on my side.

      What else would any person do when faced with a situation like the fallen woman? I only wish that I could have done more. I with for less hatred in the world as we contemplate the horror of Nice, but as the Zen masters say…What is, is.

      Regardless, thanks for your warm thoughts. The world needs more people like you.

Comments have been disabled.