The Worst Part is the End #elderly

a wheelchair

“This is the worst part of my life” she moaned. “Everything is in the past, nothing is in the future. Why didn’t I invest in life with more vigor more passion?”

She is in the twilight years of her life. Not much more to do than eat, sleep, and shuffle. Hearing aids augment sounds but many words slip by her ears without cognition. “What will I do with what remains of me?” she screams in a hoarse whisper.

“I could have been a writer, I could have been a nurse, instead I did nothing. What was it all for?”

Oh the doubts and fears that can eclipse the thoughts of the elderly. Too late to remedy their wishes but never too late to bemoan what was lost.

“Give me your hand dear Madeline” (for that is the name I will give you today). “Let us take a walk down the primrose path of your memories. Let’s smell the sweet scent of youth – yes you can remember those familiar scents of yesteryear though your olfactory system no longer cooperates today.”

“What will we see down that path? A handsome young man in uniform. An officer – just going to war. Hold out your arm, wave goodbye, give him the apple of your eye. When he returns, some things will never be the same.”

“There just look down that overgrown walk. Let’s take a moment and stop. ”  A kind faced gentleman, his arm gracefully draped behind  his withered wife, stands next to the ivy laden gate.They were  her aunt and uncle. How proud was she to know such folks. She reflects –”they taught me so much during the Depression.”

Another lane, more clear to see, grown up children with babes running free. The meadow is open the sun is bright– these children represent Madeline’s years of light.

She starts to smile as she takes in the sun, the blue of the flowers, the sounds of children having fun. “There’s promise you see in a world that seemed small. You had a life –it was something after all.”

***

I have fictionalized this dialogue I had over and over with one of my in-home care patients. I loved the stories she could relay clearly of the past. So we would linger there: over her father’s Croix du guerre (from world war 1), old pictures of family, her husband’s extensive library…

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Wabi Sabi #lonely #homeless #haiku

cropped-sail.jpg

alone with my fears

oars barely strike the surface

boat is shoaled

*

can you spare a dime

my eyes hunger for the past

my cart empty

homeless

 

 

 

This week’s Carpe Diem Haiku Kai writing challenge is to try our hand at Wabi Sabi.

Kristjaan breaks down the two concepts:

“Sabi: As fascinated as Westerners have become with the word, the Japanese have maintained for centuries that no one can really, truly comprehend what sabi really is and thus, they change its definition according to their moods. Bill Higginson, in The Haiku Handbook, calls sabi – “(patina/loneliness) Beauty with a sense of loneliness in time, akin to, but deeper than, nostalgia.” Suzuki maintains that sabi is “loneliness” or“solitude” but that it can also be “miserable”, “insignificant”, and “pitiable”, “asymmetry” and “poverty”. Donald Keene sees sabi as “an understatement hinting at great depths”.

The Technique of Wabi:

The twin brother to sabi who has as many personas can be defined as “(WAH-BEE)-poverty- Beauty judged to be the result of living simply. Frayed and faded Levis have the wabi that bleached designer jeans can never achieve.”

Beneath the Tree #3 #elderly #Christmas #poetry

elderly woman

Sitting in a chair

watching the door for days

turkey smells are old

something in her memory plays

closets all are opened

every ornament has a place

this big house is empty

ghosts in too many a space

Sitting in a chair

she ticks the number of gifts

her grandchildren are grown

more often she forgets

eggnog fills the frig

the doctor doesn’t need to know

one person who likes fruitcake

welcomes flurries of snow

Sitting in a chair

my children come over to bake

bringing Christmas cheer

tho family will arrive very late

no matter how much money he left

he couldn’t promise her a wreath

their children have their lives

big house brings lonely grief

on Christmas Eve we hope

the family will arrive

we done our best with festive

and their mother’s still alive

beneath the tree

I spent so many years carrying for the elderly and one thing is consistent: they wait looking at the door like a forlorn dog. Some family shows up (eventually) others send a card or plant in their stead. There are edges to Christmas that are sad and lonely.  If you have the ability to spill a little light into another’s holiday – Please Do!!!

Beneath the Tree #2

Beneath the Tree #1

 

In Candlelight… #yesterday #poetry #oldage

station clock

Time stands still for no man

and yet this night

with dear friends

anticipated for so long

I look at my reflection

in a bonfire of  candles

I pass my finger tip

through yesterday

there is that moment

a hush really

 a red ball that I got at 6

rolls past

the bell from my blue bike

rings “8 years today”

puka shells

circle sweet 16

the string breaks

scattering on the sands of time

remembered treasures

I held for a brief moment

and now this eve

where I momentarily hover

looking at a girl

full of dreams

grasping for a bit more

holding on to you

before you slip away

for the first and very last time

my sandy heart

Today’s prompt for Poet’s United Wednesday Motif we celebrate an Evening Out. This post was also inspired by a haiku that for whatever reason caused me to look over my shoulder at my younger self. What would we find there if we could look at younger eyes? Would those eyes gather strength or recoil at what we had become?

Cut Purse #elderabuse #poetry

writing-a-letter1

sunny smile as they wheel her

away from sterile and white

another day she has borrowed

the meaning of life

***

the weeks she has counted

four weeks on one hand

the letters unwritten

envelopes left unstamped

***

back to her home now

to a box full of cards

people known just by name

soldiers distant and far

***

the cards they are missing

the stamps locked away

her children in the background

in agreement on this day

***

no more to write letters

 a costly enterprise

we will save so much money

her purse never a large prize

***

 her tears fall on parchment

not the old paper kind

her hands left to wither

as well as her mind

***

Repentant Magdalene - De La Tour 1640 oil

 

This poem is based on a letter I read of an infirmed woman who delighted in writing letters to soldiers far from home or in hospital. Her children decided that her way of spending her days was too pricey so they took away her stamps and writing materials.

Art: “Repentant Magdalen” Georges De la Tour

 

I am inspired by my friend Charles Martin and a poem he just about widows.

Look what you can get at the thrift store! #flashfiction

the_second_hand_shop-1

“Hello, Hello in there?

My friend Eddie said he got a new head of hair here.

I can live without hair, I have a hat. The thing is well things haven’t  been working that well since Maude died.

Sure they have implants and pills, but what you offer is kinda like a second-hand version of the fountain of youth.

I can pay the price.

I know the drill: Dance with the pretty girl, light the candles, ring the bell, take a swig of this 100 year old stuff…  Uggh

Just so you know I checked the calendar – it’s not April 1st!”

****

Today the Fictioneers are going on a romp to a thrift store led by Rochelle. I’m sure we will find all sorts of goodies.

Time is ticking away #death #life #poetry

hour-glass-black-n-white

they asked me when I was a kid

how long they thought i’d live

i said” i don’t know

maybe after the world is covered with snow.”

they asked me when I was a sailor

how long I thought til it was over?

i shook my head,

“my best friend yesterday at 20 was dead”

they asked me when i was a dad

“how long do you think you have?”

“i’d like to be old as a good wine

maybe that would be 99.”

“they asked me how long now that you are 88?”

“it’s waiting for death I hate

i hope ungrateful i do not sound

of life i’d like another round”

This is dedicated to a dear friend who was like my dad as I was growing up. Each day now is  a battle with cancer…