Retirement Home

                                                                                                                         Leonardo da Vinci

He waited…old man

His face stuck against the seventh floor window.

Waited for someone to come, to visit.

The only thing he saw at that height

Were birds and window washers.

Where are they all?

The nephews, nieces, children, grandchildren?

The ones remembered

With presents on their birthdays.

Always an excuse, a reason, another day

Maybe another birthday

Sunday spent alone…

Alone with strangers…

Playing Scrabble waiting for the phone to ring.

Like seagulls after scraps with wings outstretched

They were there

When his furniture needed a new home

Mementos were given away

Valuables being passed out.

So he read and studied through the days

Counted ceiling tiles at night

And waited to die.

They forgot…

Forgot about all the times

He got up at the crack of dawn

So there were always cookies

Around when they were hungry.

Forgot about all the colds he cured

            all the people he helped

            all the stories he told

       over and over, again.

So he wouldn’t be left alone again

            alone with strangers…

I wonder if any of them understand.

The ones who will spend his money.

What it’s like to be eighty-seven

            and know you’re never going home?



*Jack was my father-in-law and my friend. 


7 thoughts on “Retirement Home

  1. This is so sad. I’ve always hated visiting nursing homes, seeing all the abandoned lives So painful was my distaste, that I kept putting off seeing my Grandmother during what turne out to be her last illness. One day my uncle drove to my work place and told me she had died. The picture is very evocative also; did you draw it? All in all, it is another example of your word leading into those private places in the heart. Thank you!


  2. I am sorry you had such a bad year. They’re so hard to get through, aren’t they? You’ve done a beautiful thing with your writing, and I’m glad to be on the receiving end of your sharing. 🙂

    This makes me want to go to a retirement home and adopt someone. My kids could use some grandparents!


  3. This is so moving – it takes me back to those visits. Heart wrenching to go there, more heart wrenching to leave…and all the people with no visitors at all. Beautifully captured Sara. The ending reminder that home is not always the place where you live is particularly poignant.


  4. Reading this I realize that as a child I likened visiting the retirement home to visiting the zoo. I would go with my family, there was a distinctive smell, and I would observe my great aunts, great grandmother, great grandfather in this unnatural habitat, much like an animal in a cage. I was too young to understand, but I never truly got to know them for the loving spirits they were and for this I am truly regretful. Thank you for this piece.


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