I go to the same Starbucks next to a retirement community so I recognize many of the old people that come in. Last month a man came in with a walker. He was leaning it on heavy and struggling to move just a half foot at the time. He almost fell down while bending over to sit.
A year ago I remember him coming in on his own, walking a little slow but still walking, and buying one of those pink frappuccino drinks. He dropped it and I watched him grab some napkins to help the barista clean up the spill. He was upbeat then and I used to exchange a few words with him, but now he just looks down on the ground as a younger woman helps him around and gets his drink. He sits closest to the door, silent, with no color on his skin, and within a few minute he falls asleep. He just started coming in a wheelchair, and judging by pain I see on his face he won’t be coming in much more.
You think it’s going to come gradually. That one day you have trouble getting out of bed and think to yourself that in a year or so you will need a cane. And then in a few years maybe a walker from time to time. But nature doesn’t work on your clock. It comes when it wants to come. I know this man did not expect to decline as rapidly as he has, one year independent and walking around, the next year barely able to bring the cup to his mouth.
There’s an elderly couple I see all the time. They have to be at least 80 years old, with a bond that gives me hope that maybe one day I’ll find someone to live out my last days with. They’d come in, get their coffee, and read the newspaper for an hour before setting out. The woman always had trouble walking so the man would hold her arm, like you would see a young couple do at night. Then they started coming in less and less. I used to see them every day, but it’s been a month since the last time. I think I know what happened.