One Year Ago: February 21, 2020

Last year, in late February, I wrote the following piece. This occurred just before the nation-wide restrictions on nursing home visits. What you are about to read may never happen again, because people can’t freely visit nursing homes anymore. Let’s hope it changes.

From last year:

Last week, by accident, I made a new friend. She is one of the elderly residents at a local nursing home, and I happened to pass by her a few times. Each time I walked by, she smiled at me, as she sat in her wheelchair.

On my 5th pass I stopped to say hello. We talked for awhile, I asked her name and where she was from. She told me she had two sons, one was deceased and the other, she said, didn’t visit. Of course with the elderly their reality is their own story, which may be different than what’s really going on. I took her word for it.

Nursing homes are lonely places. I shook her hand and our ten minutes was the highlight of my day. I would like to see her again, hopefully tomorrow.

Here’s something I wrote for a photography exhibit. I’m posting it here, along with the picture that went with the words. I wrote this for a spot of grass, not an elderly person. But if you bear with me, and read it through, maybe you’ll feel like it could apply to my friend. Tell me what you think. Here it is, from MANHATTAN BEACH: 72 HOURS:

PLAIN GRASS. Somewhere near 11th Place, a resident had chosen to maintain a tiny spread of grass, where typically cactus or exotic flowers grew. The lot was about four by eight feet. The grass was free of weeds and was perfectly plain, growing long but not in need of a trim quite yet.

Underhand, she felt like a Golden Retriever’s coat, thick and orderly, demanding a careful touch and not minding a ten-minute stay. Let’s hear her voice. Here’s what she has to say:

“You walk by because I have nothing to interest you. If you’d stop, and sit, and give some attention, you would find so much more than you had passed by.

“As fate would have it, I can’t stop for you. I count on others to pause, and say hello, and put a hold on their world. It hardly ever happens, that’s the truth.

“Are there more interesting things in the world than I? Yes, there are. If you do what you do every day, you will never find the time to sit with me. There’s no justification for wasting your time; there will always be something more vivid, elsewhere, for you to seek.

“One day, you will make a mistake with your momentum and you’ll stop your world, and join me right where I sit. Before you realize I have very little to offer and you get up to move, think of this: You have something to offer me. And I do nothing all day but wait, for someone nice like yourself, to pay me a visit.”

About Ara Hagopian's The LITERATE Show

For over thirty years, I have enjoyed drawing beautiful shapes and writing complementary stories. The imagery tends to focus on our place in the world—whomever or whatever we may be. I am influenced by Twentieth Century history—I read vintage magazines, books and letters. Inspiration comes from visualizing human achievement and personal interaction—derived from people, places and things which may be obscure, but never insignificant. My pen-and-ink THE MAGNIFICENT RECOVERY was selected by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for their 2008 summer art auction.
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3 Responses to One Year Ago: February 21, 2020

  1. Anonymous says:

    Very touching.

  2. Anonymous says:

    loved it. i have a 91 year old neighbor who has seen her husband and daughter pass away and i liked to visit her. I can’t now but i sneak over and leave flowers on holidays and speak to her through her door but would love to stop in and have Tea with her.

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