That noise I hear in the dark is Time counting down my life.

January 25, 2010

Time is the great equalizer.

The bully who twisted that kid’s arm behind his back when you were all in Grade 6 and then frog-marched him down the road? That bully is now looking in the same mirror his victim uses. And what he’s seeing is not some tough little punk who liked to pick on his meeker classmates, but rather someone with sin-carved wrinkles and watery eyes and grey in what is left of his hair.

He doesn’t look so tough anymore. He doesn’t push people around anymore. When he needs a carton of milk, he avoids any corner store where teenage boys linger, smoking and spitting and scratching. He doesn’t feel safe walking by them. He who once produced fear now feels terror himself.

Time is the great equalizer. Nowhere is that more evident than in a seniors’ residence. As the Laundry Dude, I hover at the edges of this place, wandering the hallways nearly unseen, collecting the soiled, returning the clean. I do not dispense meds or tea or health advice, and so am largely ignored by the majority of the residents and staff.

But I hear things. I observe. I know that one couple hosted great and exuberant parties in years past. Today, I came across them enjoying a glass of something golden and potent, chatting with a couple of visitors. The loudest thing in the room was the TV, its volume set practically to stun.

Some of the staff members grew up in this community. They’re now attending to the needs and requests of people who were friends of their parents or grandparents and so were part of their family’s social circle.

And so I hear stories. About the senior who came from a family of six boys, all described as “hard men,” the eldest of whom was known as a troublemaker of near mythic proportions, frequently incarcerated for his antics.

Another man, now slumped in a chair, eyes glazed, mouth loose, was once a wealthy landowner and an influential voice in the area.

I’m told the story about another of the facility’s guests, a man whose father went to great lengths to maintain his status as the town drunk. The father, stripped of his driver’s licence for one too many drink-driving convictions, simply rode his horse to the pub. One time, after another hard night of imbibing, the fellow leaped onto his mount, only to fall right off the other side, where he sprawled, dead-drunk, in the dust of the parking lot.

Time is the great equalizer. Now the landowner wets his bed nearly every day. Now the hard man is found naked in the corridor, trailing shit-riddled clothing along the carpet behind him.

Time is merciless. It will rob all of us — rich, poor, bully, victim — of our dignity and our bodies and our minds. In the great concept of Time, we are all equal, for we shall all be treated equally.

I see the ravages of Time on a daily basis and can only hope that — as the great tsunami of years and months and days and hours and minutes and seconds swallows me alive — someone in the future will reflect on how I tried to be a good man, husband and father. A true friend, ready with a laugh and a helping hand.

Time is killing me — I understand and accept that — but, before it does, I need to do something important. I need to tell those closest to me that I love them. I’m going to start now. While I still can.

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One Response to “That noise I hear in the dark is Time counting down my life.”

  1. 5kidswdisabilities said

    You are in a great position to do great things. My mom was recently in a nursing home and the staff there were very friendly and caring. You can be positive…you can be pleasant…you can enrich the lives of those who are old. Then when you are old you will know that you have made a difference in the lives of others.

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