Weathering the Years

In youth the days are short and the years are long; in old age the years are short and the days long. ~Nikita Ivanovich Panin, Russian statesman

My neighbor doesn’t seem to sleep
His light comes on at four.
Sometimes outside the blinds I peep
And watch him pace the floor.

Behind his walker off he rolls
Back and forth and back.
His carpet must be filled with holes
At least in one small track.

He turns the TV on at five
And thus it stays all day.
Surely not a man alive
Can tolerate that sway.

He used to go to work, I guess,
Made time to have some fun,
Read a book, played some chess,
Chauffeured daughter and son.

I know he used to mow the lawn,
Raked leaves and blew the snow.
Now he seems to greet the dawn
With television show.

He doesn’t put on makeup
No breakfast does he cook.
So why this early wake up
From his quiescent nook?

I guess the older that we get
The more we know for sure
Our time, no matter how we fret,
On earth is never sure.

We think we’re busy when we’re kids
We’re always on the go.
When old age comes we’re on the skids
And life becomes real slow.

Note: Part true; part fictionalized. You can guess, if you’d like, which is which, but I’m not telling, in deference to those described!


21 thoughts on “Weathering the Years

  1. Well, here I am at 5:11 CDT, running bath water and reading your post. I’ve been up since 4:40, and I’m on vacation, for heavens’ sake! I do think that, just as we want to make the most of the ending of a vacation, there’s a tendency for some to feel the need to make the best of the coming end of life. Of course, tv and pacing behind a walker may not seem the most exciting — but it may be this is the first time in years he’s had the time to think!

    • You *are* an early bird today!! You know, my late dad used to wonder how he ever worked a paying job when he was so busy in retirement! Perhaps the key is finding something you LOVE to do, then doing it as long as you love it?! And what’s that thing people say about not going gently into the night but sliding in on all cylinders with a hearty laugh?!!

  2. This is just brilliant! The words are so very true and I love the rhythm of your writing. The idea of an old man making the most of the time he has left – even if all he is able to do is watch TV and pace – is hauntingly beautiful. Bravo, my dear!

    • Thanks so much, Lucy. I suppose his lifestyle wouldn’t suit everyone, but it seems to suit him — and perhaps that’s the important thing. I mean, maybe he has no desire to work a paying job or deal with yard work anymore?!!

  3. So beautifully expressed, Debbie! And I love the quote you shared at the top of this post because it’s so true! Isn’t it something how when we’re younger, time seems to to move so slow (a year seems like an eternity). Yet, as we get older, time seems to fly by in the blink of an eye!

    I am so impressed by many of the elderly people who live in the city because they are out and about, still staying active and involved. That’s one of the reasons why I love city life so much, it forces you to stay involved with life; socially with the world.

    Have a super day, my friend!

    • Aw, gee, thanks, Ron. Even Domer complains that time is flying by … and he’s just a young’un!! Still, it seems that some elderly people are blessed with good health and a bit of money, so they continue to remain active, interested, and interesting. Others, sadly, are tucked away in homes where their brains and bodies are allowed to atrophy. How sad, right? And if I’m not wrong, I believe most studies show that those who find an interest — whatever that might be — live a better quality life than those who simply vegetate (though even that, occasionally, might be a good thing!) xx

  4. It’s a strange old thing, that aging stuff! I have time now to do all those things I wanted to do when I was young… but mostly, I no longer want to do them! I’ve long held that we should retire at 21 for twenty years and then go to work for the rest of our lives. They say youth is wasted on the young – well, I think retirement is wasted on the old! Must dash – gotta put the TV on… 😉

    Great poem, Debbie!

    • I agree that retirement is wasted on the old! How cool it would be to have time to dabble in a hobby or travel or read everything we can get our hands on … while we’re young enough to enjoy it. Of course, there’s that pesky issue of money, which we never seem to have enough of when we’re young — and some never manage to save any for their golden years! Guess there’s no easy answer, huh?

  5. I am grateful for a dad in his 80’s who rises with the birds to head out to watch the birds and a Mom in her 70’s that rise at dawn and outruns me most days. I hope the neighbor is content with his life and not lonely. The poem is lovely. But how do you know he doesn’t put on makeup? Or cook breakfast? Just guessing. Mmmm.

    • You have such amazing role models, Kb!! No wonder you and Cole get so much accomplished most days!

      I suspect my neighbor is resigned to his fate. For sure he’s not lonely, as he has family nearby (friends, too, I guess). I’d hate to think of anybody spending their senior years running from one doctor to another, though — that’s my idea of misery!

  6. Oh Debbie, I loved this. As you know, I spend a lot of time with the elderly so I understand this. I had never heard that saying before, but it is so true. My mom complains about long days and years flying by. She also gets up at 4 every morning. Great poem.

    • I think many seniors have trouble sleeping, Lana. Perhaps it’s because they drift off for naps during the day, then can’t stay asleep at night. Perhaps they just don’t get enough exercise to make them physically tired so they can sleep. Whatever. I imagine many use the television as “company” — at least it’s noise, ha!

  7. Engaged – that’s the magic word to me as we age. Staying engaged in life, in what’s going on, in something we enjoy, in relationships. Ahh that we will all be blessed enough to be healthy enough, even in slower, more mindful ways, to do that. Love the poem and I’d never heard the twist on that quote from above between old age and youth – i’d only heard and used half. The “whole” thing and comparison is so true.

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