The Silent Old

We sit alone,
among the faded echoes
of once-bright memories,
now grown cold.
We are the silent old.

Life dances by
on younger, swifter feet,
no one stops
to greet us; we are invisible,
unseen, unheard,
hungry for a word
to shatter sorrow’s hold.
We are the silent old.

Time like a thief
has stolen all
but this frail shell;
husbands, wives,
lovers, friends are gone,
passed beyond our reach.
Of us, nothing remains
to say. Our story’s told.
We are the silent old.

And so we wait.
A smile,
a moment of your time,
a hand, however brief, to hold,
so little given, yet it
lifts up our day.
Remember us,
we are the silent old.




  1. There’s a back story here, and it goes something like this: I worked in a long term care facility for 12 years, 1988-2000, managing the business office. It struck me to the heart, the way the residents would sit outside their doors in their wheelchairs, silently watchful, waiting for someone to stop and talk to them (the ‘direct care’ staff was always busy, it seemed, doing something other than direct care). I stopped, often, and came to love so many of them. I listened to their stories, laughed with them, hugged them, even Minnie, who was as prickly as a cactus….but I wore her down and made her smile. I originally wrote this July 16, 1993, and edited it a bit today. Thank you for taking the time to comment, Cindy. 🙂

    • When my mom was in a long term care facility, I spent 3-4 days a week with her for a good 4-5 hours each time and alternating the days, so that they never knew when I was going to pop in. i’ve experienced much the same thing. I would feel so bad for those who never seemed to have a visitor and would include them in whatever I was doing with my mom (reading, playing a game, watching a movie,etc). They spend so much time alone with no one to talk to or in some cases, even care..

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