I’ve mentioned before in previous postings about an older Lady I visit for an hour once a week on behalf of a volunteer Befriending Charity. It has been well over 18 months since I started and we are the firmest of friends.
I sit with her in her home and talk; small becomes big when you are aged and isolated.
Last week my Old Lady asked if there was any way I could make a copy of a Poem she had heard and loved. Given to her by a carer who comes to help get her get up and dressed most mornings. She asked if she could first read it to me.
Here is it:
What do you see nurses what do you see?
are you thinking when you are looking at me,
a crabby old woman not very wise, uncertain of habit with far away eyes,
who dribbles her food and makes no reply when you say in a loud voice I do wish you’d try.
Who seems not to notice THE things that you do
and forever is losing a stocking or a shoe,
who unresisting or not lets you do as you will with bathing and feeding the long day to fill.
Is that what you’re thinking is that what you see.
Then open your eyes nurse you’re looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am as i sit here so still, as i use at your bidding as i eat at your will.
I’m a small child of ten, with a Father and Mother, Brothers and Sisters who love one another.
A young girl of sixteen with wings on her feet, dreaming that soon now a lover she’ll meet.
A bride soon at twenty my heart gives a leap, remember the vows that i promise to keep.
At twenty-five now I have young of my own who need me to build a secure happy home.
A young woman of thirty, my young grown fast bound to each other with ties that should last.
At forty my young ones now grown will soon be gone, but my man stays beside me to see i don’t mourn.
At fifty once more babes play round my knee, again we know children my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me my husband is dead. I look to the future I shudder with dread, for my young are all busy rearing young of their own and i think of the years and the love i have known.
I’m an old woman now and nature is cruel. Tis her jest to make old age look a fool.
The body it crumbles, grace and vigor depart there is now a stone where once i had a heart.
But inside this carcass a young girl still dwells and now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain and I’m loving and living life over again.
I think of the years all too few gone to fast and accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes nurse open and see not a crabby old woman Look closer – SEE ME
As my Old Lady – and she is still very much a Lady, read aloud with both her hands gripping firm to steady the well thumbed folded paper, there was a steady cadence to her voice until it trembled and broke at the part of ‘Turning Fifty and her Husband is Dead’. She recovered well as she made it to the end then she apologised for her little interlude.No apologies needed I reassured, it is quite remarkable.
There is no sadness to be felt here, she has lived her life and a very good one from all that she tells me, just ironic melancholy that age must come to us all. This is not lost on me being at the polar end of the life spectrum, if the natural order is observed.
If I am lucky enough to get the opportunity to look back over the rose tinted years and remember the love, laughter and shared joys in my past, like the Summer in late August when the climes become colder and the Autumn of our life begins to make itself heard.
Teasing chilly nights slip into those smelling of Fire, punctuated by Rockets and Wheels to awaken to the Winter of lives with only cold, hard soil and bare trees remaining.
All that has happened has gone, yet all that has happened remains; in our heads and our hearts.