Making Dying Part of Living
Meeting My Son...Plus The Alex and Ronni Show

A TGB READER STORY: The Pier, the Birds and the Moment

By B. Henry

An airplane sneaks through the fog over Lac St. Louis.

Canada geese sing homecoming harmonies.

I'm in my car, staring at the lake where we swam as kids.

The lake ice has melted.

The water is high.

Another plane tiptoes in.

A man sits in his car, reading.

We're two cars, side by side, on the pier.

He looks at me, nods and smiles.

I smile and nod back.

I sip my coffee and think about a jumble of senior words overheard at the local coffee spot.

Words like this:

"My friend is in the hospital. She can't move from the neck down. She may never walk again. The doctors are doing tests. I call her every night. A nurse puts the phone by her ear."

"He's 94 years old, driving without a license. His doctor refused to sign the paper. I should notify the police. He's going to kill himself or someone else. If the cops pull him over, it's gonna be game over. Maybe it's just gossip. What should I do?"

"Her world has become smaller since she moved into that senior home."

"No car. No visits. No garden."

"Everything is in the past."

v"So listen to this: My three neighbours help each other, even though they are not related. One woman cuts lawns, the other one cooks and the boyfriend repairs stuff. They found a way to age in place."

"Ah, I know who you mean. She walks the ILR halls and knocks on doors. Sometimes she puts her thumb over the peephole so you can't see who is there. She's losing it."

A ship passes. It's going somewhere.

But where are we going?

More words:

"I'm not sitting there."

"I don't like that man."

"I want to bop him one."

"Now Sam, you know a bop too far becomes a boom."

"Yeah, I know that."

* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: This feature, TGB Readers' Stories, appears every Tuesday. Anyone age 50 and older is welcome to submit a story. You can do that by clicking the “Contact” link at the top of every TGB page or at the Guidelines/Submissions page.

Please be sure to read and follow the guidelines before submitting a story. It will save me a lot of time.


How delightful. What great prose, almost poetic. I loved the sense of sitting there and thinking and looking, and actually sharing the experience with another person doing the same in another car. I've been there, done that! Thank you. I referred to this blog when I attended a Death Cafe' yesterday...and talked about it on my blog. Barb at "When I was 69"

A local in New Mexico site that encourages open discussion of end of life issues is A Good Goodbye. There have been conferences, cafes, and a variety of activities to lift the blanket of silence, as you are doing also. Thank you for your openness to discussing what I try to bring up with all my clients, in the context of helping them access needed health care.

Weaving poetry and prose together, yes, of course! Delightful. And the image of the two men in their separate cars acknowledging the other's presence, content within their own realm of thought and memory was somehow poignant. Thank you so much!

Many thanks to B. Henry ~~ brevity overflowing with much, much food for thought.

Thank you for a creative story on the life of elders. Some are sad, some inspiring and all are true.

Very Chekhovian! And it all ends with such sadness. Lacrimae rerum.

Oh, these snatches of conversation are a kaleidoscope of reality revealing elder life. We had our monthly “thriving In place” meeting today — discussing ways to best achieve this objective. Next month one topic we’ll explore is shared housing but I’ll definitely want to put this out there as another way of sharing:

“So listen to this: My three neighbours help each other, even though they are not related. One woman cuts lawns, the other one cooks and the boyfriend repairs stuff. They found a way to age in place."

So very ordinary and yet extraordinary. Thank you for this tidbit of life.

A little sad, a little caring in the sharing of tasks, and also delightful in that my friends and I do just that, park in a lovely spot and observe. Thank you B Henry.

Mary made a comment I wasn't able to translate, so I googled it: "lacrimae rerum"
was from the Aeneid by Virgil. = "the tears of things."

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