Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter

Saturday, October 25, 2003


They line the hallway
on both sides
before breakfast and lunch,
when alzheimer's and dementia
trips, turns and runs the loudest.
Some in good moods, a few in
perpetual combative mode, and the
whoops and hollers... "Hey, ho....
God is good, Good is God..."
All with something to say,
even coworkers with warnings
in passing, on the way up,
"Watch your back..."
Lock yourself in the utility room
if you have to, and duck out
the other way.
Beware the silent well-meaning
bear hugs from out of nowhere,
the ones you feel compelled to
notify with "a little help here, please."
For now its just a little comic relief,
but in a place like this there's never
enough comic relief to go around,
when it all turns serious, heart-wrenching.
After lunch, dining room duty
wiping down tables, listening, listening.
In the corner she sits crying, begging
to use the phone, call her husband
who's been gone these twenty years.
Outside in the alcove, old man
mutters from his wheelchair
to himself, to anyone within earshot,
"help me... someone please help me."
All a different pitch of monotone,
and at the end of my shift
as I stand at the exit, ready
to punch the new code on the
keypad, from behind me
another voice is added
to the symphony, a thin wail
of "I'm so tired.. I want out
of this world."

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