Editor’s note: The author penned this poem for the staff at Trinity Health’s Glacier Hills senior living facility, in Ann Arbor, MI, where he lives. He offers it here as an ode to all long-term care workers and senior caregivers this holiday season.

Words are but scratches on paper. Solid. Bold. Italic. By hand. By computer. 

Oral words are verbalized symbols, moving through air: Rapid. Pronounced. Articulated through vocal engagements. For a purpose.

Pauses of our gratitude for your goodness at Christmas, and often, we send out gratefulness.

One cannot touch your soul. Softly we try. Giving thanks. Remembering a kindness.

All your achievements for us are different. Useful. Delightful, overcoming your own hurdles. Yet, achieving — much. 

You daily add to your pages of life — and ours. Empathy is your ever-present handmaiden. Daily: laughter smiles, winks, frowns, grins, gentleness, kindness — and we remember.

If you leave, for a while your shadow lives on. So it will be.  Youth will replace us elders. So it will be.  

Unpredictable word patterns will continue,  you — distinguished young people—will leave etchings for tomorrow. Memory banks of words are the joys of elder days. 

With our gratitude, with gratefulness at Christmas, and other days, for making our senior time more comfortable — because you have been a part of our days, a reminder when we too tasted our early younger times.

Herb Hildebrandt Ph.D, Hl.D., is a founder and current resident of Glacier Hills, Ann Arbor, MI.