I wrote a book some years ago which I called “One-Way Tickets.”
It is my own story, a one-way journey from birth telling the reader that I never returned to where I had been before. It is not only my story, but the story of my family. We are all refugees, victims of our times and our backgrounds and the image of a one-way ticket of course calls up – for someone my age – a train, a railway station, timetables, the world seen out of the window. Trains on time, trains to the camps, trains delayed, passports, luggage, tickets and a visa above all.
What a coincidence that my Old Age Residence is called The Crossings. At the time of writing that book I did not think about dying; I was too involved with trying to live my one-way tickets to their fullest. That is no longer true. My image now is still connected to the train, but I am sitting in the waiting room of a very large railroad station. I have stopped traveling. I am waiting for my connection. I look at the big board a couple of times every day to see if my train has been announced, but no, not yet.
The waiting room at The Crossings is full. We are close to 200 passengers, all delayed, some more some less, all somewhat restless and concerned, trying to see what destinations are offered on the big board. We are a mixed group of older people, pretty much over 75, some are upright, pacing up and down, others have walkers as they stroll about looking to see what there is to eat or drink to while away the hours and still others are in wheelchairs, unable to get up and out of the chair. Some do not see well any more, others have difficulty hearing. There is a movie theatre and many shops for us to dip in and out of, a newsstand with both books and magazines and even a computer for general use.
The noise is distracting; phones ringing, doors slamming, people talking all over the place, to one another as well as just ordering food or asking for help, checking their luggage. There is a feeling of anxiety in the air: no one really knows what we are all doing, what we are all awaiting.
We try to think this is a community of people who are free of our former chores when we were still living our lives, working, learning, experiencing life’s opportunities. Now we are carefree we are told. We pay a rather large amount of money for this freedom. Our rooms are cleaned, our meals are served, our worries are over.
I now understand that my one-way ticket is a ticket from birth to death. We are all at a place in life where death is around the corner. Our concerns turn inward. When is our train taking us to the last station? We look at the huge board hanging in the middle of this enormous space, but which is our departure? When will we leave for our destination?
The perspective to which I refer in the name of my last blog is the change in my own perspective. The title of my book, “One-Way Tickets,” referred to my maternal and paternal family thrown out of one country after another, never to return to where their journey started. My perspective was a political reflection.
I am coming to the end of a journey again, never to return.