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In imagination or dream


An old woman sits apart


In her wheel chair


Across a green-walled room


She sits controlled, her hands


And feet and lips are still,


She stares at her lap tray


Serene as a dried flower


In a hall of infirmities old age


Screams to be recognized,


We sit together in tears


Touching her white linen shawl


Herbert Mason1


Those of us who strive to improve the physical and spiritual health of the old will recognize the starkness of this room, the woman's frailness, and her quiet dignity, so poignantly portrayed as a dried flower. Although absorbed in a dream and imagination of her own, she is able to capture our attention and awaken in us a reverence for the old. We are saddened by the infirmities of old age and its inherent sorrows. But can we not also be heartened by our capacity for honoring the wisdom and dignity of old age? She invites our curiosity, and we begin to wonder about her life...what mark she left on her children, her husband, and her friends. Did she love to dance? Was she a bird watcher? Did she like to swim? To paint? Was she a teacher? A businesswoman? What did she think was important? What were her dreams and hopes? Did she live into old age with her husband? How did she view her environment? Did she love color and light? Was she witty? And, how do others remember her?




1. Mason H. Fair Acres Nursing Home in Disappearances. London: Kaniquahi Nimatullahi Publications; 1999. [Context Link]