Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Old People's Houses

There is a Sadness when you visit an Old Person's house and you can date the moment at which they stopped engaging with the world. It is the date on the top magazine of the stack by the easy chair, or on the bookshelf of sun-faded paperbacks. It's the date on that first page with the library of congress information, the ISBN and the rest of the numbers. It's the last important book they read, the Pulitzer Prize winner from 1967, or 1974, or 1988. It's the shelf full of James Michener, or James Clavell, or Norman Mailer. This marks the point at which they have not only given up on acquiring the new, but have ceased to trouble themselves with unloading the old.

These old people typically have newer things in their house than these artifacts. Usually the television is less than a few years old, and the microwave might be battered although it's certainly not antique. They might even have a gleaming stainless steel refrigerator with an ice-maker and dispenser built into the door. But you can tell their heart is not in these things. Most likely some child or grand-child or social worker has stopped by, said, "Oh Harold, you can't possibly go on living with this old thing in your home," and taken it upon themselves to arrange delivery and installation of the replacement. And the Old Person likely shrugged and said, "sure, I suppose so," and sat looking over the top of his bifocals with a battered paperback in his hand, a bemused expression on his face, while his caregiver fussed and grunted to attach co-ax and AC power and argue with utilities over the phone.

If it's a good natured Old Person, he perhaps said to his caregiver, "You like to read, do you? Why don't you take this copy of Shogun with you? Maybe you'll enjoy it. Don't mention it, it's the least I can do."

1 comment:

  1. If only the care-giver would sit down and talk to the Old Person about their life, their past, instead of fussing over new technologies. If only...