My father has recently moved to a long-term care facility. He’s 85 and suffering from a nasty collection of age-related problems. I visit him on Thursday mornings and, weather permitting, we go for a spin around the neighbourhood. By “spin” I mean, he sits in his wheelchair and I push him past pretty gardens, a park under construction, busy city streets and quiet residential neighbourhoods.
We live in big city, 3.2 million strong, so we generally encounter lots of people. One time, we met a baby buggy coming in the opposite direction on a narrow sidewalk. The mom and I exchanged questioning glances. Which vehicle hits the grass? Dad’s heavier, the baby buggy obliged. We smiled. Thank you!
The beginning of life and the end of life. Both on wheels. Both pushed by women.
On the wide commercial street, we donned a cloak of invisibility. No, people didn’t smack into us or fail to give way. They looked right through us. Well, right through my dad.
He’s old. He’s bent. He’s invisible.
I got looks ranging from pitying to supportive. People felt sorry for me because my dad is still with us. I know he’d rather be with Mom, but it’s not his time. I preferred the people who understood why I was the engine to Dad’s wheels.
But Dad was still invisible.
The next time you encounter an old person, grant them visibility. Look into their faces and acknowledge their existence. Maybe even smile or say “Hello”. Make my dad’s day.
© Joan Leacott,2013