Even superheroes get old. It seems obvious but not many people think about it. These individuals seem so super that the idea that they eventually need to be cared for just doesn’t seem to register with most people. And on top of that, you can’t just throw them in with normal folks at a nursing home.
Have you ever considered what could happen when you have a dementia patient that can lift twenty tons over his head?
It could be a formula for disaster.
So we take care of them here: a nursing home for superheroes.
You would think that dealing with what seems like an endless number of elderly supervillains trying one last time to vanquish an old foe would be the hardest part of the job, but it isn’t. As loud and destructive as they can be.
Nor is the aforementioned dementia patient who is super strong and easily startled, although I can’t express how careful you must be around him. Nobody wants a repeat of the ‘Dropped Tapioca Incident.’
Trying to corral a bunch of old people for dinner, most of whom can fly or run at incredible speeds, or convincing a short-tempered woman who can shoot lasers out of her eyes to take her medications are also daunting tasks, but they are still not the most difficult part of my job.
The most difficult part?
When some of their super friends come for a visit.
You see, not all super heroes age at the same speed. We get visitors who were born before there were even airplanes and telephones, and yet they look like they are in their thirties. Not a grey hair on their heads. And these super people love nothing more than to stop by unannounced to visit their old comrades and swap war stories about how they saved the world against tremendous odds or prevented some terrible incident from happening.
The thing is, then they leave. They leave and go back to saving the world and preventing terrible things from happening.
Our residents go back to sitting in their chairs or watching TV. Or, in the case of Telescopic Vision Man, watching satellites and space debris float around.
Imagine how hard that would be for a geriatric super hero. I’ve seen it firsthand and it’s rough. One of our heroes has invisibility as one of his powers and it was weeks until we saw him again. Other than the sound of the occasional toilet flushing, it was like he wasn’t even there.
Most of our residents spent their entire crime-fighting careers wearing a mask, and it’s only after they have hung up their capes and tights that they truly realize that anonymity wasn’t the only reason they wore them. Many of them dig them up for these visits so that their younger-looking friends can’t see the pain etched on their faces. Pain or confusion or nothing at all. I think nothing at all being etched on your face must be the worst.
Must be hard to transition from super to old. Going from being punched through concrete walls and shaking it off to worrying about slipping in the shower and breaking a hip.
When a hero discovers his or her powers and wrestles with the responsibilities that come with them, the last thing they usually fear is aging. They would classify that, given the high mortality rates involved in crime-fighting, as a good problem to have. But then they do the last thing that anyone expects; they live through bullets and bombs. They survive death rays and mutant monsters, explosions and deadly poisons. Great loves and greater betrayals.
And they find themselves getting older.
And then old.
And then at our facility.
Cared for by super-ordinary people like myself.
Jodi Picoult once observed that “Superheroes were born in the minds of people desperate to be rescued.” Nobody ever bothered to ask who rescues them.
Especially from the unrescuable.
The aging process is not gradual or gentle. It rushes up, pushes you over, and runs off laughing.
No one should grow old who isn’t ready to appear ridiculous.
Lance Manion is the author of 10 short story collections, with an 11th being released in March. His writing has appeared in 50+ publications and a dozen anthologies. He has been posting content daily on his eponymous website for almost ten years.