I Was Not Always This Old

 

When you come into my room, just who do you see? You see a grey haired lady, looking back at you with a tired and weak smile. You look around and see a bunch of photos and trinkets that I’ve collected over the years. But is that all you see?

If only you could’ve gone back in time and met me when I was your age. Like you, I had big dreams. The world was my oyster and nothing was impossible. I walked with purpose, with my head held high. I had so much life in me and I was unstoppable. This grey haired lady you see in front of you, was once a stay at home mother, champion ballroom dancer, a nurse, a midwife, a teacher. I might have even protested in a rally or two.

I’ve had wonderful friends. In my group of friends, I’m pretty sure I was the funny one. We laughed so much, our bellies ached. We would sit and talk on the phone for hours. We went shopping, tried on the latest dresses, did our own hair and danced to Jailhouse Rock

I’ve lost touch with my old friends. And as I sit in my great big arm chair, I find myself wondering where they are right now. Do they ever think of me? I wonder if they miss me? Oh my god, we had so much fun.

I had my insecurities and had days where I lacked confidence in myself. Like you, as confident as I was, I’d look in the mirror and asked myself, “Am I too fat? Am I too skinny? Am I too short? Am I too tall?”

I was strong and I was beautiful, but that’s not what you see right now, is it?

I’ve had my heart broken and cried myself to sleep. I’ve also loved with all my heart, and fortunate enough to have someone love me back. I’ve looked into his eyes and thought, “How did I get so lucky?” But I’ve also looked into another man’s eyes and thought, “I can’t live like this anymore.” 

My husband is gone. The man I’ve spent nearly my whole life with, is now gone. I now watch TV all alone in this room, and sometimes, I still turn to see if he’s there. Like you, we had children, dreams, goals and plans together. 

Like you, I was a daughter, a grand-daughter, and a mother. But I’ve surpassed you now as I’m a grandmother and a great-grandmother. I see a lot of myself in my daughters and grand-daughters. I see, in their eyes, the same worry, pride and happiness for their children that I had for them when they were younger.

Now I’m old. I’m very old. My bones creak when I try to walk. What’s happened to me? I used to dance, swim and run around with my children. Now I’m lonely, I’m weak, and I need your help. I wish I didn’t need your help, but I do. I haven’t got a choice. Please know that I get very embarrassed when you have to take me to the toilet. 

I had a beautiful home. It wasn’t much, but it was still my home. I had lots of wonderful and even sad memories in there. I’ve cooked and cleaned and wiped up spills that my children and grandchildren made. I’ve now lost my home and all I have now – is this room, this room was allocated to me. I no longer have the freedom to do what I want. I’m only allowed to have my most precious things with me in this room, to remind myself of the life I once had.

When you see me, please remember, I used to be like you. I was not always this forgetful, not always this weak and I was not always this old. 

 

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15 Comments

  1. Very powerful creative writing offering us an insight into one elderly dear’s memories! Thank you … when my time comes I hope I have someone as considerate nursing me!

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  2. Beautiful post x like you, I also have worked with the elderly. I remember one elderly resident looking in the mirror and poignantly sighing at her reflection “is that really me?” she asked – she was beautiful inside and out xx

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