I was listening to music this morning as I cooked breakfast. John Prine's "Hello in There" was playing. It's about an old couple who are lonely and basically forgotten. For me, it is an incredibly sad song:
"Me and Loretta, we don't talk much more,
She sits and stares through the back door screen.
And all the news just repeats itself
Like some forgotten dream that we've both seen.
Someday I'll go and call up Rudy,
We worked together at the factory.
But what could I say if asks "What's new?"
"Nothing, what's with you? Nothing much to do."
Ya' know that old trees just grow stronger,
And old rivers grow wilder ev'ry day.
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, "Hello in there, hello."
Th thought of being old and alone has haunted me for a long time. I know somehow that is what will happen. It will be a self-fulfilling prophesy. And it makes me sad.
Maybe that is why I am so glad to talk to old people and not pass them by. I went by an adult day care the other day and the folks there were happy to chat and share some stories. So many old people are left in nursing homes. They desperately want someone to notice them and to take time to say "Hello".
My parents-in-law will not be among the forgotten. The live-in couple are there. All seems to be going well. I am relieved. My wife is cautiously optimistic. If they can get past the political opinions of my father-in-law, the situation may work.
I know that if we are lucky enough, we will live to be old. Medical technology helps us to live longer. How we live and what we have to look forward to is largely up to us. I cannot think about being alone in the future. Today, I can give a smile and a kind word to those who desperately need it. No one need be forgotten.