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Paul – Stirling, WA

Not accidentally, I haven’t had much to do with aged care facilities and ‘really old’ people for most of my life. Inscribed associations from my early childhood – of grandparents and great aunts kept away, in pleasantly horrible ‘homes’ that felt nothing like one. Artificial legs propped against walls, tired wheelchairs squeaking across stained lino, smells, old-people smells, disenfectant smells, bland food smells. Senses workng overtime. Guilt-visits to the dying as an adolescent. Moans, cries, hollering. Unanswered hollering. Carefully flippant ‘carers’, at one end or other of their working lives – either kids more interested in each other than the lives all around them, or the nearly-patients, on ‘automatic’ working through their chores. Dribbling. Sadness. Embarrassment. Shame. Avoid eye contact. Don’t want to see them. Or worse, get an accidental glimpse – a sliver of your own future. A future..if you’re lucky. Yeh. Its sure been no accident. And now. Things have changed, including the reasons. Of course the decor’s different. Different patterns of flowers, different shades of pink and crimson and grey and beige. More buttons, signals, warnings. Power assist. Systems. Less fresh air. Less relief. Less loved ones around. Less humanity. Less loving. And I wonder why it is…

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