Oil and Rust VI: Where Are The Plants? Elders in prisons.

Walking down the long linoleum hallway, one can’t help but notice the beaming florescent lights and the huge lack of windows in this thoroughfare. Scattered along the hallways are all different sorts of people in all matter of situations. They stare at you sometimes lost, sometimes sad, others say hello cheerfully. Most sit in wheelchairs and get around on their own. Others just stare blankly as if not aware, or mumble to themselves, traversing psychedelically the space time continuum with their collective wise experiences, integrating it all at the end of life. No one to listen, to channel, to pray with them. Except for the tired, overworked and underpaid care assistants that sit at desks doing paperwork to keep this whole thing rolling, cook, walk around all day to tend to folks’ needs, or just listen. Some get visitors, some never do.

Everyone knows their end is near, that they won’t go back home from here. There is nowhere else to go. No other possibilities. No autonomy or choice. No children to aid, to play with, to speak to, to have sit on warm fragile laps, full of love.

The sterile lifeless hallways, not a green growing thing in sight, alone will take someone down. In Papa’s room, sits only a single Christmas cactus. It’s his roommate’s plant. It sits in a windowsill who’s blinds are closed. I go open them to try to get the land inside of here. I almost knock over the cactus. Carefully I keep it right side up while I pull back the plastic shade.

Why don’t they decorate the shit out of these places? Make them luxurious? It’s the least we can do for elders, even if they are senile, can’t hear, are losing their minds or stuck in the memory of their younger years. It wouldn’t take much to paint the walls blue, put plants everywhere, cut out a few more windows, put a darn garden outside that is wheelchair accessible. The land is kept from this place. It literally is a place of death.

Read More