Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Archive for the category “Old Age”

“Put me down.”

Every year I return home to see my mom.

After a severe stroke three years ago, which had been preceded by a number of TIAs (mini-strokes) over the years beginning in the 1980s, she’s been declining steadily.  We were fortunate to get her driving license away from her about a year back before she’d killed anyone.  The truth be told it was her doctor who was responsible, and everyone who tells how easy it is is talking about someone else’s parent. Last November we got her into a wonderful assisted living facility where despite no longer being able to converse as she had and largely being fixated on three things (money, going out to eat, my room is a cage) she had a certain quality of life.

During the first week of my visit a month ago things went relatively well although I’ll be the first one to admit my mom has never been an easy person to deal with and age combined with cognitive impairment has not helped in this regard.  There was much for me to complain about and complain I did to friends and relatives and whoever was ready for an earful.  The next few days were as pleasant as they have ever been – we went out to eat at a great Italian place with a cousin and aunt, and she even went to the casino (She loves her slots.).  Then Wednesday mid-morning when I was about to go to her place for lunch, I got word she’d had a massive stroke.   The doctors did not think she’d survive. We were forced to put her into a nursing home and into the Rapid Terminal Decline program.

But she has since rebounded.  Her health care directive made it clear that she did not want to be in a nursing home (see title for a direct quote) and considered quality of life to be of the utmost importance.  We are constantly being pushed for therapy, which my sister and I are resisting to the very fiber of our being.

I was reminded of the wonderful film, The Sea Inside.

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The First Thing We Do

The First Thing We Do
Jack would do
anything
for anyone
you were told.

So you waited
in his lobby
interested to hear
what information
he might provide.

From a plaque on the wall
a Bible verse stated
obedience to God
would bring about good governance.

A painting of Washington
kneeling on the banks
of the Delaware
hung.

As for your mother,
she’d already crossed
the Rubicon.

Jack’s secretary,
who’d earlier
said
her father, too,
was suffering from
dementia
and had expressed such
understanding,
told you coldly,
“He can’t see you.”

No jot and tittle
means sympathy’s
in short supply.

Sketch 4: A Man Fallen

It was a beautiful spring day when I went for my morning walk.  I was nearing my home when I saw what at first I wasn’t able to process: an arm moving about near a curb where a number of taxis were parked.  The motion was similar to that of Icarus in that famous painting.  As I approached I realized it was an old man who had fallen in the street near a curb where a number of taxis were parked. He had hit his forehead and was bleeding.  I tried to lift him but was unable to, and so I looked about and elicited help from a passerby.  We got him up and seated on a nearby park bench.   A woman seeing his condition went to a nearby kiosk and got some water, and when she returned began to clean off his forehead.  Should we call an ambulance?  Did he want us to call someone to pick him up?  He answered no to both, and what was clear in his beautiful blue eyes was that he didn’t want be a burden to anyone.

The Forgotten

The Forgotten
May death not find you
among the forgotten.

The floors you scrubbed,
the laundry washed.

Depression-time men
passed by for work.

You are older now
and frail among
those lined up
in wheelchairs
for the dose
to keep them
docile.

Dig out
the potato root
formed in that
famished land.

May death not find you
among the forgotten.

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