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Apr 09

Chronicle from the Old Folks’ Home—Part 12

In Brief— The author’s experiences in the warehouse we call home. Sometimes there are surprises from the gray-haired residents. And then, there are other more serious matters.

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Everybody Dies One Day—

It seems a trivial thing to fight over, but that’s what happened recently. “I’m going to kill that S.O.B.,” preceded the fisticuffs between the two old men. The personnel had to separate the two. So what was the source of their ire? A bowl of potato chips and candy! I said it was trivial. The good news here is that hope remains: testosterone still flows in wrinkled male bodies.

As I write this on Friday the 13th, several thoughts strike me: 1) In my last posting I mentioned that a new man with Parkinson’s joined our little group; 2) There was briefly another vacant room when one of our number reached her destination. It has now been filled by an old woman who sleeps a lot but waves to me when she’s awake; 3) This being Friday the 13th says “Superstition” may be a good topic for a future blog piece. Of course you won’t read this until April, and there won’t be another Friday the 13th until October.

By the way, that fantasy I mentioned in my previous Chronicle from the Old Folks’ Home has been written and will go public for a week starting on March 5. Remember, although it may ring some bells, it’s a fantasy.

Since I have little to do but think any more—and assuming the personnel who care for us survive the assorted ills that afflict humanity—it occurred to me that they will someday wind up in this or another warehouse for old folks and that they will eventually shuffle off the mortal coil. As if that fact isn’t sobering enough, the people who visit us will also get off the train at their own destinations. In fact, everything living has an expiration date. Indeed, not just plants and animals, but the planet itself… the solar system…the universe.

Recently, prompted by a book I read, I wrote a blog piece on immortality asking readers if they would want to live forever. One of the immortal characters in the book looked with envy at a dead man. Though impossible, it’s a tempting fantasy to think of living forever, but think about the Trump presidency and ask yourself if post-Trump America will be a democracy or an autocracy. Would you want to live in a dictatorship? Or, what if you are imprisoned and tortured? Both negative and positive, the possibilities for America and the world are too numerous to contemplate.

I wonder when the train we’re on will stop at my destination. For several generations on my mother’s side of the family, the longevity is extraordinary. To live as long as they lived is a nightmare, a curse, for me. On the other hand, my father’s side of the family is short-lived. The longest they have lived is into their seventies. I’ve already exceeded that. Like that immortal man just described, I look with envy on my father’s side of the family. I hope and I wonder.

Good friends tell me my writing can be an inspiration for others. Beyond the facts that I harbor suspicions my friends are being kind in stroking my ego and that I’m nowhere near as skilled a writer as I want to be, this little blog will stop one day and the world will go on its merry way as if I’d never existed. Anyway, I hope and I wonder.

The Weekly Sampler—

As a reminder, go to the Archives on the right side of the page and click on the month and year of that week’s featured Sampler. If you wish, go to the January 15 blog for more thorough instructions.

If you want to read the entire piece, simply click on the box titled “Continue Reading.” When you want to read the next piece, simply swipe your cursor across the one you have been reading and you will find the next one. Do this every time you want to read the next piece.

Don’t miss the Comments and my replies. Even though the Sampler pieces are from the past, feel free to comment…or not.

Go to the Archives on the right side. Click on August 2014

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12 comments

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  1. Jim Newton

    The living-forever question depends for an answer on the current state of the responder. More than once I would have said no way to the question. At this exact moment I would say yes, of course. For a going-on-83 guy I couldn’t be happier. When my body fails or my mind quits working, if I still have the sense to understand the question, I will probably want it to be over. All of that said, I go to the old Neil Diamond song with the lyrics, “*(they all) wept when it was all done, for being done too soon.”

    1. Don Bay

      Immortality is tempting when a person is feeling good, but what happens when that person feels bad? There’s the question of age. Remember that when a person drinks from the fountain of youth, s/he is frozen at that age. You don’t get to choose another age. What about such questions as your beloved wife or your children? Think of the pain of seeing them age and die while you will live on. These are just a few of the problems attendant to immortality.

      I suggest that as tempting as immortality may be, thought should be given to the drawbacks.

  2. Donna Boe

    Don, you live in a place where you confront death on a regular basis. I only occasionally see reports of deaths of people I know, but they are getting more and more frequent. As our energy diminishes, and our health gets more fragile, it is more and more difficult to assume that I’m not here forever. My strongest wish is to really live ( with ability to think and move) as long as I am alive, and to leave a good lasting legacy for those who remain.

    1. Don Bay

      Your “legacy” consideration is the key. It is said that we should all leave the world better than when we arrived. You certainly will do that, BUT you still have years to go to add still more luster to your life.

      As for here in the warehouse, my major problem is seeing all those gray heads every day. I’m certainly aware that we all have an expiration date, but to be reminded of it every day gets a bit wearing. That said, the admonition above is the one that’s most important: leave the world better for having been here. How does a person my age do that? What can I do to leave the world better for having been here? Alas, what I’ve done in the past has to carry me. Sheesh.

  3. Susan

    It seems to me that ,given the current situation ,you have a great possibility truly worth living longer for.
    I’m looking forward to reading the fantasy and so much more❤️

    1. Don Bay

      The “living longer” part is open to argument, but I appreciate your encouragement. As for the fantasy, you’ll have to find it. As I recall, it was in March of 2017, so you’ll have to go to the archives to check it out. I suspect you’ll enjoy it. I enjoyed writing it. Take good care of yourself.

  4. Linda

    “…leave the world better for having been here. How does a person my age do that? What can I do to leave the world better for having been here? Alas, what I’ve done in the past has to carry me. Sheesh.”

    I just have to say that you have done so much by writing this blog. You contribute so much to making this world a better place through this blog. What you’ve done in the past (your work w/the ACLU, fighting for vets, fighting against the draft, your work in TV) would have been enough.

    Your mere presence at The Ol’ Folks’ home has contributed to the quality of life for those around you because you’ve taken the effort to try to engage people during their stay. So your life NOW is so clearly a life that gives thought to making the world a better place even with the smallest gestures like a smile or wave, which for me, is truly a giving and caring existence that is priceless.

    1. Don Bay

      Thanks for the strokes, Linda. In thinking back over my life, I’ve tried and sometimes succeeded, but I’m frustrated that the little I do now is so damned small compared with friends like you who do so much to make this mixed-up world a better place. A wave and writing what’s important to me seems far too little. I feel I should be doing more, but here I sit doing so little. As has been said, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”

      I appreciate your encouragement and your example, so maybe I should accept my age and limitations…but the frustration is there. At least I can say I was on the right road. Your example and the examples of other friends is what the world needs.

  5. Elodie Pritchartt

    One of my favorite children’s books is Miss Rumphius, which I used to read to my little girl at night. It always made me cry because the main character reminded me of my own great aunt. But its message was comforting. We don’t have to do great things to leave our world a better place. Even the small things make a difference.

    https://archive.org/stream/MissRumphius-English-BarbaraCooney_462/rumphius_djvu.txt

    1. Don Bay

      The last two sentences are worth remembering. In fact, they rank as wisdom. The last sentence reminds me a bit of the sage’s advice, “The trip of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” Your comment is well-written. I need to remember it when I get frustrated. Thanks!

      1. Elodie

        My pleasure, Don. Sent you a couple of emails a week or so ago. Something tells me you didn’t get them. Might want to check your spam folder.

        1. Don Bay

          I’m unaware of your comments. I’m either getting absent-minded or there’s some sort of problem since it’s not in my spam folder. I’ll be on the lookout for repeats of this problem. Thanks.

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