Like Desparados Waiting For A Train…
I just got re-acquainted with one of my fav Guy Clark songs, “Desparados Waiting For A Train.”
In this song, the singer reflects back to his childhood and the grandfatherly figure who helped shape his life. The old man wasn’t a desparado, but was a 20th century cowboy living the cowboy life, just minus the cows. An old geezer who sang “Red River Valley” while playing dominos with other old goats at a local saloon. It’s unspoken, but you can tell how much the singer loved being the old man’s “sidekick” who went everywhere with the retiree.
In the last verse, the singer says, “One day I looked up and he’s pushin’ 80.” The singer, now grown, goes to the nursing home where the old man now resides in his last days. Unable to do anything else, he dreamed up a kitchen like they used to sing in when the young man was a little kid; helping the old man reflect over his life and knowing he did something good. He helped shape a life.
As I get older, that obviously means the people around me are getting older. There are a few now who are, like the old man in “Desparados” facing some of their last days. Like the young man did for the old man, we all need to remember that, as someone is dying, we need to do everything possible to allow them to live their last days the way they want. It may be directly opposite of the way they’ve lived before, but honoring the life and times of the elderly is one thing we can do to help make that inevitable transition easier.