Life in Solitude


His fingers tap the table at his side, rhythmic  but not with any tune. An absent-minded comment on his lot, sitting in this chair bereft of choice. The room is small and jaded, marked by dust, with furnishings from another age. Not his , of course, just a place to sit.

Dressed in a suite once smart, now tired, with a shirt ironed but worn he sits and looks toward the window pane. All he sees are roofs and slender chimney pots. Sometimes they smoke but more  often not. His life, once full of love and crowded with events has pared down to this impoverished solitude. An old radio plays a range of tunes. Some he knows but more of them does not. Each day the same, unloved unknown, he sits there picking at his finger nails.

He has a daughter, there is her photograph, now married but living far away: abroad in fact and busy with her life. Once or twice a year she writes. Always polite he can’t express his need and prattles on about the price of bread. Pride in himself is really all he’s got. His pension decimated by events, he lives on benefits: at least they pay the rent. He can walk of course, but not very far, brew his tea and heat a tin of soup.

His daughter, now in middle age, has children and worries of her own. Her husband is not rich and nor is she. They get by but not by very much. She does think of her dad and worries about his plight. He has no phone so letters must suffice, though posting them is difficult for him now. So far away, that  man who gave her life, and sang to her while she sat on his knee.

In his mind he still has many friends though most of them have long since passed away, or like him cling to shrunken lives just nodding at events. There is no change in sight:  just isolation and the news. This life, once crowded with events and army memories from a forgotten war. Smiling slightly he remembers the parade: stepping forward as the General pinned some medal to his chest. Lost in a drawer among his bits and pieces: some photographs, a letter from his son, killed in a road accident long ago. Apart from these  there is little left to show. His plans and dreams have ended in this place.

So some live, largely lost to view, making no comment  on their circumstance. Migrating families leaving them adrift and clinging to survival with shreds of dignity and “what must be must be”. In their prime they lived another life, full of event and responsibility, but life’s cruel twist has cut them off from hope and left them clinging to their memories.

As we walk down the street, past houses history unknown, perhaps inside is lived a life like this. Up in the roof far from worlds eye view :may be our future whose to say. So I think of them, these ancient folk, walled up lives with their memories. We, thinking ourselves civilised have swept these people from our daily lives, parked in bedsits or lined up in some  home in states our “savage” ancestors would wonder at and sigh.

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in community, creative writing, Life, life2, old age, Relationships and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Life in Solitude

  1. wordsfallfrommyeyes says:

    This is a really sad illumination of, yes, the ‘largely lost to view, making no comment on their circumstance’ still exist out there, their lives almost done. It was a really thoughtful blog, made me think.

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  2. Sadly there are to many people living like that all over the world, and for us oldies it gets harder as the years grind on 🙂

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  3. Caroline says:

    I often wonder how civilised our civilised society really is. In so many “3rd world” societies respect and care for their elders is inbred and respected. Maybe in our hurtling rush for extra meaning in life and that search for ‘the plot’ – we have actually lost the one thing which would give us what we are looking for.

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  4. backonmyown says:

    Sad. Beautifully written. You’ve given me much to think about.

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  5. nelle says:

    We tend not to look in this window, but in reality, this is the end destination for many of us. Life transfers and moves on, leaving its progenitors behind, slipping towards the earth’s recycle bin.

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  6. Barbara says:

    Very sad analysis but too true these days. I agree with Caroline about the respect 3rd world countries have for their elders. We live in a throw away society anymore. We throw our troubled teens to the wolves on the streets and our elders to the hypocrisy of a broken system of elder care.

    Sad testimony to a civilized society.

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  7. Love your post. Beautiful, but heart breaking. Thank you for sharing.

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  8. SuziCate says:

    So much heartbreak, joy, and history behind each door…and most of those journeys we will never be priviledged to know.

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  9. Big Al says:

    Your posts are nothing short of society’s own conscience. Well crafted and thought provoking, they give us pause. Things that we would otherwise not want to contemplate are exposed in all their nakedness. It does keep us grounded.

    The sad saga of our elderly probably began innocently enough the first time someone from one cave tribe ran off with someone from another tribe. While the family unit stayed strong for many thousands of years, technology, especially the technology of travel, has hastened it’s accelerated demise. Yes, the memories of a life well-lived is sometimes the only vestige we will have, but it is comforting in its own way. I save my saddest regrets for those that don’t even have that.

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  10. You tell a tale of such profound loneliness that it makes me want to cry. Then I think that being alone doesn’t have to be punishing; it can be a gift. Solitude suggests a choice–I guess that’s what I’m saying. The man you described seemed to have no options. That’s what made me so sad.

    When I’m old, I won’t mind a life of solitude as long as it’s my choice.

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  11. Julie says:

    So incredibly sad. And so incredibly common, a story often not just reserved for the elderly anymore. Even without this person’s physical limitations there are too many of us already emulating debilitating patterns of isolation and loneliness.

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  12. I agree with everyone, this was beautifully written. I always enjoy your post.

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  13. Shonnie says:

    Beautiful Ducky!

    As always you speak of things worthy of meditation. Blessings my friend … Blessings.

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  14. —The Lost of the world. They are all around us. So many lost souls.

    xx

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  15. ElizOF says:

    How touchingly sad… Yet, there are many who are living lives of quiet desperation… So, so sad. My prayer is that join something that would help take the edge off; a hobby club, a gym … anything.

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  16. says:

    This post stayed with me while I went on my bike ride. I was thinking about my mom getting older, how much I love her, and how I feel like I want to be there for her. At the same time, I suppose, I’m one of the children who has gone abroad to live so I miss her desperatly. She’s nothing like the man you described thank Goodness. She’s attending classes, rollerblading, walking dog and has a boyfriend. I don’t know what will happen when she gets older and needs care. I pray that I am there for her as she has always been for me.
    Julie

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