Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"Old People No Good"

I was at St. Charles Hospital today for a blood lead test, now required in New York State for all infants. I was told to go to the waiting room. Seeing an elderly woman there, I guessed that she would enjoy looking at the baby. I situated myself in her line of vision. She asked me how old the baby was. She told me she was 83 and had three great-grandsons ages 9 months, 5 years, and 7 years. She had three daughters, and her husband had wanted a son. Now he had them in his progeny.

She then went on to tell me how her grandchildren, now in their thirties, had often been in touch in their childhood and teenage years. “When I was young and healthy, I would go to Macy’s and Sears and buy things for them. I was useful and they would call me all the time. Then I had a bypass operation a few years ago and I can’t get around so well. So they don’t call me anymore.”

In her thick Polish accent, she groaned, “Old people no good. . .You understand?. . .Old people no good.”

I hardly knew what to say, but I listened. Within a few minutes, I was called. I told her, “God bless you,” and she was gone from my life. But I wished I could tell her grandchildren, “Don’t you know what you are missing?”

I can’t reach them but I can tell whoever else may be listening.

“Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.”
Psalm 71:9

The Voyage of Life: Old Age
Thomas Cole, 1801-1848
Oil on Canvas