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.
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.
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?