Just old people?
“It just kills old people. It just kills old people. It just kills old people.”
I’ve heard it again and again and again. Each time bring to mind a person I love. Each time I think about losing them.
Each time I got angrier and angrier.
The virus crept closer. The chorus grew louder. “It just kills old people. It just kills old people. It just kills old people.”
We’ve spent countless hours in a warehouse together. When I was young and had highlights in my hair, she called me “Hollywood.” She’s made me lunch and strawberry shortcake. She got me an Alabama T-shirt. We had it out because I ate all the cheese she had in the breakroom refrigerator.
If you get her real tickled, she says, “You need to quit.” We talk about our families. We gossip about Russellville. We look at the obituaries and try to figure out if we know the people or not.
She is not just an old person.
He met me the second time I played my songs in public. He became my mentor, not just in music but in life. He taught me to be a better husband, a better father, a better person.
He told me stories about opening for Aerosmith, about seeing Steve Martin “before he was Steve Martin” and about working in a gas station in Nashville with John Anderson. He’s talked me through bad days, bad gigs and bad trips.
He once told me, “There is no such thing as darkness, only the absence of light” – and forever changed the way I thought about God’s love.
He is not just an old person.
She changed my diapers. She taught me how to look for things in the clouds. I sat in her lap while she sang. I can still remember what her housecoat felt like.
She taught me what a conscience was and told me to listen to it. When I was young and dumb and being sorry to my girlfriend, she called me out on it. She said “You don’t treat a person you love like that.”
After her heart surgery she came to stay with us, and that girlfriend, who had become my wife and a nurse, helped her recover.
She loves camping. She loves coffee. She loves her church. She prays for me every night.
She’s not just an old person.
She owns my favorite restaurant. She’s not just an old person.
He cuts my hair. He’s not just an old person.
She threw her hands up and shouted “Praise God” every Sunday I sang. She’s not just an old person
He stole my nose in 1987 and still hasn’t given it back. He is not just an old person.
They have families, like you do. They have people that love them and people they love, like you do. And like you, they have lives they want to keep living.
They are not just old people.
Will Stults is a performing songwriter from Russellville.