This month I learned that an elderly couple died in my town where I live, it made the national news. It was a murder suicide. The man called 911 and let them know that he was going to shoot himself and their bodies would be found in the front bedroom. The dogs would be in another room of the house. The note left behind indicated due to his wife’s health deteriorating and the fact that he could no longer afford the medical bills. My heart broke when I read the article. Even now my heart hurts that they saw no way out, it made me wonder if I had ever been around them in town. Did I see them? Could I have made a difference in their lives? I have always, always, always felt a certain affection for the senior population. When I was in HS I would go weekly to visit the local nursing home and made many friends. So below are just my musings….nothing polished or finished but I just wanted to share this with you…
Was that you?
I stand behind you at the checkout line with Harmony,
You smile at us as you talk to my granddaughter about her purchases.
We smile back as you put your few items on the conveyer belt in front of us.
The cashier seems annoyed that your 3.98 purchase you pay with a hundred dollar bill.
She asks, “don’t you have anything smaller?”
You shake your head no, almost apologetically, that you need the change.
As you leave you look back and tell Harmony to have a good day…
Was that you?
Sitting together on the park bench watching the world go by?
You smile as Harmony charms you with her daring running back and forth in front of you…
She stops and tells you that you both have matching shoes
I sit beside you as you tell me bits and pieces of your life story.
Now I know you turn 89 just 9 days after Harmony turns 4, you were born in Manhattan and that we both lived in the bay area around the same time and we both were in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
You tell me it is a small world and that you moved here 10 years ago, why I ask?
You tell me because of a woman, we both smile and laugh.
Was that you?
I wait patiently as you make small talk with the cashier at our local grocery store.
You tell her your garden isn’t growing as good as it was last year,
Something about squirrels and needing to figure out what to do…
Your merchandise scans as the checker nods not looking at you…
Does she see you? Is she listening?
I notice the frozen dinners getting bagged
As the total gets announced by the blankless cashier you fumble in your purse
A checkbook appears as you now search to find the pen
The checker appears annoyed as you scrawl out the amount
I smile at the checker hoping to convey I am in no rush
I hurry out after you and see you have parked next to me
I say good luck with your garden as you steady the cart near your car
Can I help you? I say…
I put the groceries in the back seat of your car and tell you that I hope you have a nice day…
Was that you? Two cars ahead of me waiting to turn left
The car behind you impatiently honks at you as I see you looking nervous
I say a prayer in my mind that you just take your time, don’t worry about him
The car honks again and this time you feel rushed and pull out quickly
I catch my breath as I see that you barely made the turn as a car came barreling toward you
I wait my turn and before I know it we are both turning into the same parking lot.
I park next to you and wait for you to exit your car
I’m sorry that man was honking at you, I say acknowledging I was nearby,
Some people just have no patience…you just ignore those drivers
You smile at me and stop and look deep into my eyes
Thank you honey, driving makes me nervous these days you say
Me, too, I smile back at you and look at your weary face