Like Old Times

Senior Citizens Find That New Ulm, Minnesota, ...

She’s knitting another scarf, like all
the previous ones. We would call it a day,
and be done with it until tomorrow.
But she’s so bound to the safe anchor of sameness,
any deviation, like pouring cereal
before her morning’s coffee, it becomes like
she dropped a stitch somewhere,
a purl before a knit stitch, and the scarf,
her smoothly knitted day,
would just flat out unravel.

He nibbles at the same meal over two nights,
but he will slowly consume the entire newspaper
over the course of each day.
As if his mind’s teeth were in a glass,
he inexorably gums A-1 through the obits.
Obits always first, though.
That will never happen to me, you say.

She sits all day and waits for a call,
and when you call, she says you’re
the only one who has. And then you listen
to pretty much the same rap as yesterday’s
and the days’ before that. Meanwhile,
the news channel’s booming in the background
up to the Led Zep levels of your youth.

You shake your head. But tonight
you’ll place your slippers (slippers!?) just-so
next to your bed and set the alarm
for that same time, for that same rush,
to that same job you’ve said for ten years
you can’t wait to retire from so you finally
can do what you want, but likely will be
the same thing day after day. You know,
like will never happen to you. Says you.

©Joseph Hesch 2012

Linked to dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night.

26 thoughts on “Like Old Times

  1. likely do the same thing after retirement…dang the futures looking a bit bleak brother…smiles….we are creatures of habit though…and routine…and we say it will never happen to us, but then we look around and realize….but no way am i wearing slippers man….no way…ha…

  2. oh my, this had me smiling, smiling all the way through… yes, already, i feel myself knitting these patterns into my life as I watch my parents wrap their own shawls around their shoulders. this is fabulous.

  3. I must admit to already wearing slippers! However, it is immensely cold here in the winter. I really enjoy these pieces where you explore the lives of others. Helps me walk in their slippers and see things differently.

  4. I work in a nursing home, and often think it is like a looking in a magic mirror, a glimpse into what the future holds. The older I get the more I realize the truth in this. The scary thing is when no one calls anymore. So true for many.Thanks for sharing this thoughtful/thought provoking piece.

  5. so sweet… my mom spent days, weeks, months working the needles and whipping up afagan after afagan, she’s been gone 10 years now… hubby retired recently… believe me, he’s not doing the same thing anymore, but no doubt the new may get old

  6. Joe, we always think it will be different for us, don’t we? This is a poignant read. I bet many people have called, but she remembers only the one calling. Sometimes the end of life isn’t what we envisioned. A strong write.

  7. Ouch, man. Not much encouragement for old age 🙂 But I feel your words, both introspective and ourside. Reminds me of my grandmother some, complaining about sameness but refusing to accept any offers for change. It’s like shes chained to the past, and all else must visit there. Which can be a good thing. It keeps me grounded. These are thoughts I had as I read. I enjoyed it much.

  8. Joe, such a strong compelling writing. The challenge of growing old and trying to hold onto living . . . not just existing to change the days — one for another day. …”no telephone call or the only one received”

    I remember my mother going through these types of days — when life went ahead of her and didn’t look back. I believe older people and those with chronic health conditions or living with cancer can certainly deal with the sameness of their days — somehow living a purposeful life has to be redefined from more than what job we have or what we do during a single day!

    We should be . . . .

  9. Great perspective here, Joe. Inertia will conquer all, whether you’re slaving for the man, or discarded as not worth his effort any more. I like the metaphor of dropped stitches, panic, —we are always making order out of chaos, and so much of the time it’s completely meaningless, except as some sort of security blanket, I guess. Lots of material to cogitate upon here.

  10. Having been retired for a couple of years, I can’t tell you how many things I do now, that in my youth I never dreamed. Routine does set in, but if you keep a little of the ‘young’ in you, you’ll be able to rattle routine once in a while and break it enough to really, really enjoy life. Love this poem, made me smile.

  11. My wife has that conversation with her mother twice weekly. My mother died at 39 years of age, so I miss out on the privilege. As to retirement, I can attest to the fact that for a poet, there never is a blank page; so hoe up your rows, make your preparations, hone your wit and writing, and make ready for the glorious winter that awaits.

  12. We move towards knowing how others spend their time is a beneficial thing. It may help to make bearable for others to know and for us to experience. Nicely Joe! Thanks for hosting1


  13. Wow, Joe. Is it just me or are you showing us a different Joe? I always enjoy your poems and writings, but this one really touched me deeply and with a POW! Outstanding stuff, mister. Wow, Joe.

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