Nursing Home Musings

I’ve been going through a lot of old papers stashed away for years, mostly unfinished symphonies. 😉 Among them was an even longer version this poem I’ve decided to edit and post. (I remember now why I never finished it before. 🙂 )

Having worked in seniors’ homes over the years, I’ve seen various sides to this issue. I’ve seen parents whose children do visit often, and parents whose children, for some (often valid) reason, don’t. I’m curious to know what you think as you read this senior’s musings. Do you think her complaint’s valid, is she forgetting how often her children do visit, or is she whining too much?

Where Are My Children Tonight?

I’m lonely tonight in this old nursing home,
wishing that one of my children would come.
The visitors passing glance down but don’t care
to speak to the woman that sits in this chair.
I see them arriving; they come with a smile
to visit their parents and chat for awhile.
I do hope my children come see me tonight.

I’d love it if one of my boys would drop by
to talk of old times, even just to say “Hi”;
or my daughters—they surely could think of their Mom?
But it seems so long since anyone’s come.
I wonder what they are all doing tonight?

When Dad passed away, the children were good
to come to the service and cry like they should;
they took care of the will and the funeral, too,
and they said, “Mom, don’t worry. We’ll look after you.”
Be nice if they’d drop in to visit tonight.

They said, “Mom, you’re too frail for living alone.
The best thing for you is a good nursing home.”
And then we won’t worry that you’ll get sick or fall
So they came to admit me and signed papers all.
I’m safe in this place, but where are they tonight?

When my children were little I was busy all day
I had so few minutes to hear what they would say.
Now I have all this time and would love to just sit
and gather my brood for a good long visit.
Oh, please let my children come see me tonight!

We gave them so much—all we could afford—
and I marvel to think of the money we poured
into their schooling, fed and clothed them for years.
Now they’re busy each day with their friends and careers.
No time to drop in on their mother tonight.

Do they think back with fondness on their childhood years?
How should I have raised them so they would be here?
Now I’m just an old woman sitting here in this chair
hoping they will remember and show proof that they care
for their mother and still come to see me tonight.

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Verses to Fall Asleep By

Sometimes when I can’t fall asleep, I like to read or recite easy poems; often I choose haiku. For some reason I find these short verses so relaxing; I can lose my daytime thoughts in the simple concepts and scenes.

For example this verse by Shiki:
blue evening sea…
from spring islands near and far
new lights are shining

English translation © 1958 by the Peter Pauper Press

I’m not one to read a lot of mystic symbolism into these verses, but can easily imagine standing on the shore beside this writer and looking across the darkening sea at those specks of light from the sleepy villages on those islands.

One problem of reading haiku just before bed is that pictures and ideas start coming to mind. Before long I have to go find a pen and paper so I can write them down.

Some of mine are melancholic:

oh, churning waves
return to the deep seas
take my tears with you

And some verses that come to me are amusing:

bemused cricket
crawling up the scarecrow’s pant leg
country back roads

Do you enjoy micro-poetry?

Scrapping

Sparrows

They squabble like humans,
these sparrows tussling over
fallen seeds under my feeder.
Silly birds! They can’t comprehend
a big bag of feed in my garage

poured out fresh daily,
Food for all, yet they threaten
and buffet each other;
little warlords disputing division,
eyes fixed on the last crust,
while fresh loaves brown in the oven.

As if there’ll never be enough,
as if each one must have it all
or starve. Or do they simply enjoy
scrapping? So much like people!

Touching Shoulders With You

Author Unknown

There’s a comforting thought at the close of the day
when I’m weary, lonely and sad
that sort of grips my crusty old heart
and bids it be merry and glad.
It gets in my soul and drives out the blues
and finally thrills me through and through;
it’s just a sweet memory that chants the refrain
“I’m glad I touched shoulders with you.”

Did you know you were brave, did you know you were strong?
Did you know there was one leaning hard?
Did you know I waited and listened and prayed
and was cheered by your simplest word?
Did you know I longed for the smile on your face
and the sound of your voice singing true?
Did you know I grew stronger and better because
I had merely touched shoulders with you

I am glad that I live, that I battle and strive
for I place I know I must fill.
I’m thankful for sorrows I’ll meet with a grin;
fortune may send me good or ill.
I may not have wealth, I may not be great
but I know I shall always be true,
for I have in my life that courage you gave
when I once touched shoulders with you.