Dogs 2007

THE OLD ONES
(2/22/07)


we sat
around the table
the five of us
47
85
86
90
and 93

I had driven
my grandmother
93
blind
two time
cancer survivor
(breast and colon)
to the euphemistically
named Care Center
in reality
a very nice
nursing home
for such
a small town

there
we met
my two great uncles
90 and 86
the latter there
to visit his wife
85
who while physically
still quite healthy
suffered
from the onslaught
of senility
or dementia
whichever best
applied

she
no longer talked
but smiled continually
seeming genuinely pleased
with her surroundings
holding in her hands
a picture
of a child angel
amongst the clouds
showing it to whomever
made eye contact
with her

last time
that I visited
she had a
snow covered
church

the uncles
had just buried
their sister
and the elders' wife
the year previous
both woman
former residents
of this same
facility

now
I listened
to this trio
of wisdom and wit
talk of weather
religion
politics
medical infirmities
and even sex
a conversation
much as I would have
with my own
contemporaries

the only
difference being
that my friends and I
had yet to acquire
that morbid fascination
with the deaths of others
but when someone
has lived
as long as
this austere group
they are quite certain
to have known
quite a few folks
now fertilizing
a rock garden
somewhere

our visiting done
we all stood
except
for my great aunt
and expressed
our good fortunes
at having such
a pleasant
afternoon

I leaned down
to hug
my seated relative
and she smiled
before accepting
my embrace
and showed me
her angel

"very beautiful"
I told her
and reached
around her shoulders
to say
goodbye

the brothers
would drive themselves
to their separate homes
probably more alert
and aware
than myself

I would drive
my grandmother
back to her house
where she still lived alone
albeit with much help
from her neighbors
in the little
farming community

that night
I lay in bed
thinking of my life
40
45
or even 50
years hence
wondering in what
category of functionality
I might fall

dead?

incapacitated?

or pretty
much the same
only older?

there
was no way
to know
for sure

but I figured
to hedge my bet
and start cutting pictures
out of magazines
right away
hoping
that my caretakers
all will have
a sense
of humor

angels
and churches
are not
for me