They call this Assisted Living, Lord, but most days I'm not so sure 'living' is the right word to use.
I am old and I've seen more than my share of changes. I watched nineteen presidents come and go and I may even see another one try to figure out how to fix the world before I come home to you. Maybe this one will do something besides run his mouth, but to tell you the truth, I don't much care anymore. I'm only concerned about two things: whether or not I'm going to have to take a laxative before I go to bed, and whether or not I will wake up in the morning. I figure everything else is your department.
Forgive me for being cynical. I'm just old. I've lived more years than I ever thought I would, and I've got you to thank for that. But I'm wondering, Father, why it is that you're keeping me here?
I never wanted to be a burden to my children, but that is what I've become. They visit me, but it is a duty call. I can tell they can't wait to leave. Their lives are happening outside of my small cell, so why should they care that my breakfast never arrived today or that my bottom is chafed and raw because I can no longer take care of my own 'accidents.' They don't want to hear that more of my hair has fallen out from infrequent shampooing. It is not their problem that the assisted part of my life is far too often unavailable when I need assisting.
Father, I do my best not to complain to my children, but how else can I let them know that I need them to champion my causes? I am not physically strong enough to demand fair treatment. Crowded conditions, overworked, understaffed helpers makes it difficult for them to give me the personal attention I would like.
The thing is, I clam up when the time comes for me to say something to my son or my daughter because I don't want to complicate their already complex lives.
Just this morning I was thinking about all the things I did when I was young and in good health. Oh, how I took it all for granted. I stayed up at night till all hours but still got up early the next morning to do whatever it took to insure my family's welfare. I did so much each day that now it seems almost like a dream. There seemed to be no restrictions on my abilities or my strengths. I would give almost anything to go back to that time, Father.
This afternoon I looked out my window at passing cars, at people going to appointments, to restaurants, to the Mall. I can't remember when I've gone shopping or when I've eaten a meal that wasn't prepared by institutional hands. Most days and nights I do nothing.
There is no one left with whom I can talk, no one who will play gin rummy with me or just sit and visit. Not anymore. I have outlived all of my friends. My life, when it was a life, was full and fun and it had purpose. But now there is no joy for me, nothing to look forward to except perhaps to awaken soon and look into your loving face.
assisted living - cappy hall rearick - april 2005