They are still, my people. Perfectly still, if one does not account for the occasional twitch of an eyelid or the sound of a rasping dryness which twitches indiscreetly around their dry lips.
They have a unwieldily detachment. As far away from their youth as one can imagine, these elderly, wheelchair-bound statues whose eyes dry off into the distance, many seeing no detail, but reduced to shadows and the few textures which remain to them.
They are not hungry anymore. They look forward to nothing. And the odours in the still air attest to it. These people, perhaps more than most, live just for the next few moments. Their perspective, if we could ever witness it, would be inexplicable to our earthbound mortal eyes and ears.
Yet, their legs bleed continuously, their weekly perms glow when the summer sunshine strikes them with an unfathomable blueness, their forehead's crease and they cry with anguish at the impossible and the unknowable. It is heart-breaking. And each day I dread going in to work for one reason; ugly news that another has died during the night. It is an impossible job.
The wheelchairs are kept spotlessly clean and oiled. As is their last place of residence. Lined up like some macabre race in the living rooms, they are left, always turned towards the sun. As if that is what they have to look forward to. Their clothes too are boiled spotlessly clean and parched, some to the extent of losing colour. But the few visitors notice details like that. Mother is clean and silent, and therefore content. That is what they notice.
Death reduces us all, it has often been said. But when it catches up, and overcomes, as it will, our feeble and time-limited attempts to keep it at bay, address an expression of thanks to your God that you have friends and family around you; not dry and, to my eyes, still incomprehensible statues.