“Old Age”

I find my grandfather sitting in the library. His hair is thin now, and rumpled like the unmatched jacket, tie and trousers he wears each day. His leather-bound classics and signed first editions carefully arranged on golden oak shelves have been replaced by discounted hard covers and well-worn paperback novels haphazardly crammed into pock-marked bookcases from IKEA. I watch the old man as he lovingly fingers each page of the book he holds. His sight and mind are gone but he is happy as he sits on the vinyl-covered chair in the nursing home and visits with an old friend.

(Photo by Claire Fuller. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, Friday Fictioneers. April 24, 2013.)

This entry was posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Short Fiction, Short Story and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

69 Responses to “Old Age”

  1. Aww. sad and nice story. good job.

  2. Poignant piece, beautifully written.

  3. Beautiful story, vb. I pray I never get to that point!!!


  4. That’s how I hope to be up until the end, always with my books. Great story.

  5. Eric Alagan says:

    If I can keep my books – and keep reading them – I’ll be all right, I reckon.

    Thank you for this peek into a possible future that awaits some of us.

  6. Sandra says:

    So sad, and yet lovely at the same time. Well done.

  7. yarnspinnerr says:

    Lovely writing. 🙂

  8. A loving tribute to all grandfathers
    as long as he has his friends – the books

  9. Penny L Howe says:

    Well done, an excellent written piece that is all too true today!

  10. Joe Owens says:

    This is a sad tale. No matter how high we get, age will tug us back to reality soon enough.

    • vb holmes says:

      Old age is a predictable condition of life–we dread it but do everything we can to reach it. Good luck with your team-developed story–will check on the progress once you get it started.

  11. kdillmanjones says:

    How heartbreaking to find that his eyesight is gone, even as he still fingers through his favorite books. Nice job making us all feel it.

  12. Yes, at least the memory is there… but when the interest is lost that’s what I would hate….

    • vb holmes says:

      Having only known one person with dementia, I can only guess that there are still threads of memory of what was important to them before they went over the edge. I had a great aunt who loved to walk but was confined to a wheelchair in later years. Her feet moved constantly as if she were walking. It was sad, but I felt the simulation fed her memories and brought her pleasure..

  13. Carrie says:

    I’d hate to lose such books. But at least he still has access to something to remind him.

  14. kz says:

    i agree, it’s sad and beautiful all at the same time. wonderfully told.

  15. I like that the old man’s spirit remained. The money and youth faded, but he found a way to keep his books and the joy. A strong man.

    • vb holmes says:

      Unfortunately, his collector’s editions were sold to pay for his nursing home expenses but his love of books is so strong that he finds pleasure in the feel of the object now that he can no longer see, or comprehend, the words.

  16. julespaige says:

    While it takes her longer these days our 90 year old family member still reads the daily paper and books…with one eye. Very nice write.

    • vb holmes says:

      A very lucky lady to still have her mind and the ability to read, even if only with one eye–so many have two eyes but have lost the will or the mental capability.

  17. elappleby says:

    Lovely story – let’s hope we all learn to be that content when we’re old. I loved the detail in the ‘pock-marked bookcases from IKEA’ – great stuff.

  18. Dear VB,
    I echo the sentiments already expressed. Golden story of not so golden age. Well-written, well-told.

  19. We could never pass on our love for books to my mother-in-law, who recently spent time in the nursing home before dying at the age of 90. She never developed an appreciation for reading and therefore lived a lonely life while in the nursing home. Her only friend was waiting for our daily visit. this is the flip side of your depiction of old age. Thank God for books. I like your version better.

    • vb holmes says:

      I hope she enjoyed looking at Ron’s photos and listening to your lively accounts of your travels–she had an unbeatable resource in the two of you (also, I remember your posts on the traveling pants).

  20. Beautiful and thoughtful. This makes me ponder.

  21. wmqcolby says:

    Teeeee-RIFIC! I could see it ALL. Super nice world you created. Truthful, too. Great, vb!

  22. camgal says:

    This was gentle and priceless 🙂 peaceful too.

  23. billgncs says:

    Hi VB — that was a touching story – I feel like books are my friends – never truly alone with them.

  24. Sad and sweet at the same time, nicely drawn portrait in few words.

  25. Jan Brown says:

    So sad. But one thing I can say as time goes by…I can reread detective stories from 25 years ago, to which I do not remember the ending! Like rediscovering an old friend. (I also reread great writers and humorists even when I remember the story line, because it’s still great the second/third/fourth time around.)

    • vb holmes says:

      It is a different experience when you watch a show knowing that you should remember the ending, but don’t. I always figure it’s the director’s fault–certainly not mine.

  26. Wonderful character sketch. Had a lump in my throat thinking of my father in such a place. He didn’t belong there. And I was powerless to rescue him from it.

  27. unspywriter says:

    Made my throat tighten. I rather hope that’s the way I’ll go–surrounded by true friends. Great descriptions and great job of “putting” the reader right there in the room.

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/reincarnation/

  28. misskzebra says:

    I bought a bookcase from Ikea a few weeks ago and I was so proud of myself when I’d finished putting it together.

  29. Debra Kristi says:

    Very touching. May we all grow age with grace with the ability to still read our precious books.

    • vb holmes says:

      Everyone’s goal, I’m sure. That, and stars on the ceiling for reading in the dark..

      • Debra Kristi says:

        Ugh. Damn reply went all wonky. It should say, “May we all age with grace and the ability to still read our precious books.” Not sure were the extra words came from. :/ Yes, the stars on the ceiling would be a nice touch.

  30. Anne Orchard says:

    At the end it’s only the happiness that matters. Loved your story.

  31. Mystikel says:

    Awww….Get that man some books on tape. I agree that if he is happy there is that consolation.

    I would have liked the story but for some reason my like button is not loading. Please consider yourself “liked”!

  32. vb holmes says:

    Thanks for the comment and the virtual “Like”. In his case, I think it’s the feel of the book, not the written word, that gives him pleasure. He remembers his collectibles as he strokes the cheap paperbacks and discounted editions and it’s that memory which brings him pleasure.

  33. Reminds of “Old Friends…..” Simon and Garfunkel. I will be 64 in June but I won’t be in that home. I’ll be afoot tappin to Beatles “When I’m 64”

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