The Old Man

The sadness of a once energetic life now taken over by age and disability.

Image Credit: 
© 2016 Seb Reilly / Used With Permission

His eyes, old and narrowed, look out across the rolling sea. Eyes that had seen the swell of the water as his ship ploughed through the waves and across oceans. Eyes that now are seeing the changing face of the world. A body that had felt the freezing cold of Scottish winters and hands that used to be strong enough to grip hold of life.

Fingers with no dexterity and legs too weak to walk, the result of old age and tired old bones. Sitting in his wheelchair on the promenade, he looks out over the churning foam huddled in a warm jacket against the icy cold wind; thinking of how, not so long ago, he as a child was running across those sands. A life so rich and filled with happiness. He, like so many before him, never thought that his world would change; never thought that it would be like this when he became old. In his mind he is still a boy but with the experience and knowledge of a man.

He still wants to do so much, to achieve so much, and still has the ability and the desire to learn. He thinks of all the things which he has gained; all the different skills which he had spent a lifetime perfecting. And now he has no use for them, although they would be forever engraved upon his memory. Skills and knowledge which had motivated him and shaped his life; now redundant. Only the slimmest of possibilities that those skills may be useful to someone, but nobody is really that interested. People have their own lives and worries; different priorities and different sets of values.

His love of the great outdoors is crucial to his feeling of well-being. Breathing in fresh sea air, he seems not to care if it is accompanied by rain or sleet. He, deep in thought, thinks of his favourite season, autumn; when green leaves turn to brown, red and gold before the cold dark days of winter, after which the first watery rays of sunshine appear, heralding the beginning of a new spring. Nature’s regeneration.

His face is pitted and lined by advancing years; his cheeks sallow. Hardened by weather but still so full of character. He doesn’t mind the rain. When it rains nobody can see that the man is quietly sobbing.

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