No Parties Please at Bramley Home for the Elderly

My name is Stanley Castle, which is the name I prefer, although the familiar, “We’re all friends now” people insist on calling me “Stan.” I am a man who relishes order and formalities and excessive familiarity unsettles me: it has always done so. I live at the Bramley Home for the Elderly ,by-line,  “We Bring Compassion to Understanding” where the levels of absent-minded neglect, and even cruelty, remind me of my childhood. Life may indeed go full circle, and so, emotionally, I am back where I started as a burden too far for staff whose minds are on other things and who wish to be in other places. Thus it is that the cruellest among the nurses are baffled that I smile at their conduct, which brings back fond memories of my mother, a haughty, fastidious lady who aspired to an aristocratic heritage founded on some baseless rumour later laid to rest; as I shall be in due course.

I sit now, silent among a circle of feces, watching or staring at the television and discover the clock to be the most animated presence in the room. Sometimes there is a flurry of activity and some relative comes in to visit someone else and says something like “ How’s it going Gran?” as if all  the residents are having fun, and  have just finished a meal of oysters and  champagne. No one comes to party here in the Waiting Room for Death but that truth remains unspoken ” We don’t want to cause too much emotion among these fading souls.” The lunch recently served under the title “Shepherd’s pie with peas” may have contained  nutrients, but flavour had been exiled to make way for them.

Do I sound bitter? Who cares, bitterness is free, and I won’t last long enough to suffer the consequences of the emotion so I make a point of glaring at anyone lucky enough to have a visitor and make them feel as uncomfortable as possible. It has not made me friends, but it has given me the energy that anger brings, and that is something I will treasure until I cease to breath and they can fold me up and put me out of harm’s way until the disposal van removes me from their sight. It was not always so.


About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
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18 Responses to No Parties Please at Bramley Home for the Elderly

  1. Quite a serious one, this – and a harsh reminder of what we (as a society) do to those who we view as ‘no longer of value’. I’m just glad that your lead found a little solace in anger.


  2. Dawne Webber says:

    Brilliant post. It really hits home because my father-in-law is in a place like that. He suffers from dementia and that just adds to the bitterness.


  3. Al says:

    Pretty sober entry today, ducks, so I will make a less playful comment than usual. Even when describing a most awful and realistic existence such as this, you continue to amaze with your abilities as a wordsmith. As a reader, there is as much excitement in anticipating your joining of phrases as there is in the story as a whole. Altogether, this little vignette is a how easily we neglect our progenitors.


  4. catterel says:

    I can only say hear, hear to previous comments. Very touching and utterly lacking in sentimentality.


  5. This resonated Peter. However “good”, “pleasant” or “well run” these places are they all have the same feel to them. I shudder when I recall the few years my mum lived in such a place. I still feel bad she had to go there but we tried between us for long enough and as she needed 24 hour care it became impossible. It was so sad, my dad used to go there and spend almost all day every day just sitting holding her hand. Oh I could go on…


  6. What a great line–‘the clock is the most animated presence in the room’. And what’s with that closing line? Are you going to explain yourself?


  7. **(Life may indeed go full circle, and so, emotionally, I am back where I started as a burden…**)

    Sad. Utterly sad.

    xx Kiss from me!


  8. Jane says:

    This resonated so soundly as the future of many of us…. unless we do something about it now. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. gwpj says:

    Brilliant post, Peter. I spent a number of years as a mental health consultant in nursing homes in the U.S., and the same situation occurs there. Often when I’d advise staff to call a patient Mrs., Mr., or Reverend, because that is what they preferred, I’d get the following answer: “We call our residents by their first names here.” “Even if they don’t want you to?” “Yes; we make no exceptions.” At one point I responded: “You’ll have to put up with his or her depression, then.” It did no good at all.


  10. gotham girl says:

    Oh Ducky. You immediately brought me back to the time I spent with my father before he passed away a few months ago. If he’d been able to express himself (Alzheimer’s) he would’ve been able to share just like Stanley. Tears here. Every word of this is so TRUE. I really like the idea that you may be thinking of a book along these lines, assuming I understood your comment correctly. I think there should be an automatic comment from Al after each of your postings reminding us why your posts are so brilliant. His comment says it all!!
    On a side note…still reading your book – on page 77 and enjoying it tremendously…it was lost and then found during my trip to Morocco.


  11. You painted a grim, yet unfortunately accurate reality of a retirement home. Yes, his perspective seems a little bitter, but it seems very realistic and reflective as well. I never quite noticed the truth that from anger, stems energy. I really appreciate the deep contemplation within your pieces and your ability to evoke such powerful, sometimes uncomfortable, emotions.


  12. restlessjo says:

    I regularly visit my husband’s 98 year old auntie in the nursing home, and it is indeed a sad place to be, both for her and me.


  13. Your articulate the reason I advocate euthanasia and have plans other than a nursing home for my final days in this lifetime. Well done for one so full of life…


  14. Julie Buhite says:

    “the Waiting Room for Death”: vivid. Priceless writing. Leaves me kinda speechless and completely impacted. This post reminds me once again why you’re my favorite writer.


  15. r e douville says:

    So poignant, yet so capturing of the sort of thoughts that can run through our minds, not just with the aged, but of any age. Right now, the US is facing an unfathomable crisis, tens of thousands of children sent unaccompanied to the border in search of a safer, better life. Imagine the thoughts of these children, potential discards of the world and its political, selfish ways.

    Well done… btw, just bought your book for my Kindle, and look forward to the read!


  16. Jen says:

    I believed the whole way through that Stanley is not as bitter or as angry as he’d like us to believe. So the last line suited me!


  17. Jane Thorne says:

    I won’t say what I detect behind this piece, but Ducky your abilty to take your reader right to the heart of the story is priceless. ❤ xX


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