Hand in Hand

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is SERENITY

My firs thought was about the Prayer of Serenity we often see on wall mottos and such. It’s a terse but profound statement: if we could just accept some things that can’t be changed, then get with it and change thing we know we could change — how much better this old world would be! And then the crowning touch: the WISDOM to know the difference!

But my response will be this homey little verse by Edgar Guest. For those of us who’ve crossed the bridge into ‘Seniors’, I think this illustrates serenity very nicely:

Hand in Hand

All the way to age we'll go
hand in hand together;
all the way to brows of snow
through every sort of weather.
Rain or shine, blue sky or gray,
joy and sorrow sharing
hand in hand along the way
we'll go bravely faring.

All the way to sunset land
we'll walk down together
side by side and hand in hand
held by Cupid's tether.
Once we danced in early May
steps we'll long remember;
so we'll trip the miles away
even to December.

Let the years go fleeting by!
Gray old age shall find us
still recalling smile and sigh
long since left behind us.
And though feeble we may grow,
worn by wind and weather,
all the way to Age we'll go
hand in hand together.

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

 

 

 

The Nursing Home

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was HABITAT

asia-1822460_640Last night I was reading some poems written by a man visiting his aged mother in the nursing home, and decided to write one myself, about an incident that happened when my Mom-in-law was 97. She had dementia, but not the total loss of Alzheimer’s, so she still had a sense of where she was living.

Wheeling Mom around the nursing home
we find the visitors’ room almost empty today.
Just one old gent in his wheelchair, staring silently
in peaceful meditation — or frustration?

We stop awhile in our rambling – and why not?
We’re just killing time, really. The last hours of a lifetime.
I pick a spot by the picture window and we gaze outside.
Beautiful yard. Even if her vision’s fuzzy, I hope
she can still catch some of the spring colour.

She looks around the huge room, discerning
a bit of the high ceilings and classy woodwork.
“My grandfather built this house,”
she informs the man, with a touch of pride,
not remembering that this isn’t a house.

When we first brought her here she thought
it was a junkyard, the final habitat of old and unwanted.
But that memory’s gone; now, thankfully, she likes
this place her grandpa built — sometimes just worked on.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,”
the old fellow snaps. One of the lucid ones, bad luck.
Held captive here by his lack of mobility, perhaps,
but wheelchairs don’t affect the understanding.

“He did!” Mom insists. “My grandpa built this place
and Uncle Pete helped.” Because didn’t they both live here?
And weren’t they both carpenters? Good ones, too!
She remembers her Dad getting letters from his sister;
she and Uncle Pete did live here, back in the ’30s.

Her dad was blind so she read everything to him,
so she knows. How dare this man contradict her!
Of course she remembers her grandpa. Even Uncle Pete –
if only from those letters Aunt Catherine wrote.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!”
But his harsh retort just bounces off her certainty.
I decide to continue our stroll and wheel her down the hall
while she can still be right – and he’s definitely wrong.

Fellowship

FELLOWSHIP

by Edgar Guest

The earth is warmed by the kindly sun,
but lives are warmed by the deeds of men
and their words of praise when our best we’ve done
and the parting wish that we’ll meet again.

The clouds may blanket the sky with gray
and the earth grow chill as the rain descends,
but he shall keep smiling along his way
whose heart is warmed by the love of friends.

It’s the glad “hello” and the handclasp true,
the smile of joy on a friendly face,
that means contentment for me and you
and makes of the earth a happy place.

It isn’t the gold that we strive to earn,
nor the fame we struggle so long to win,
for these are glories we’d quickly spurn
if never a kind heart took us in.

The poorest man on this earth is he
who has bartered his friendships for selfish gain,
who has sought advantage by trickery
and seeks for a welcoming smile in vain.

For the earth is warmed by a higher plan,
and he shall be glad when his work is done
who has kept the faith with his fellow man,
and the peace of his own conscience won.

Sister’s Last Good-Bye

Yesterday we as a family gathered to say our last good-bye to our sister Rose. Our son-in-law and daughter drove us down for the Celebration of Life, which was held at Moose Jaw. This was directed by a Celebrant who read the write-up of her life the family had written out. Then her oldest daughter came to the mike and read her memories of Mom, at times with a smile and at times pausing while the tear flowed.

I learned some interesting things I hadn’t known about my sister, including the fact that she and her husband met on a blind date set up by friends. She was only fifteen-and-a-half but it must have been love at first sight. Only six weeks later he popped the question in a unique way, simply telling her, “There’s something on the kitchen table for you.” She went to look, saw the small box and said, “YES!”

After the service there were hugs and tears and a lunch at the reception hall, where a video was shown. This was a collage of photos of her life and some of those photos brought me to tears. I remember those years, the little girl in some of those pictures.

Watching the years of her life pass in flickers on the screen was hard in a way, because she’s so alive in those scenes. You want to pull her back! There were a few snaps of her childhood and teen years, some from her wedding day. I saw a few showing some of us siblings together, a couple showing our parents, us as a family together at her house after our dad’s funeral. These were interspersed with many pictures of them as a young couple, growing older, travelling. We saw her two daughters at birth, as teens, their weddings, then them as parents; with many shots of the extended family and/or Rose holding and playing with her grandchildren. A lifetime well lived and enjoyed.

As I’ve already said, Rose was the only sibling I’ve had steady contact with through the years; the others I met more often in passing at functions. I will definitely miss her and that continuing family contact.

Perhaps because of those pictures, last night life as a whole took on a dream-like feeling. This present life seems like a flowing stream of incidents, scenes viewed from a train window as we speed through time. The world waiting on the other side seems like the true solid ground.

I’ve a cousin who says there’s no life beyond this one. You die; that’s it. Lights out. As a Christian I accept the Bible teaching on Heaven, but most people of various faiths do believe in, or at least hope for, a land of peace and light on the other side. People who have been revived after clinical death claim to have experienced some life after their last breath. All hallucinations?

At the service we were told that Rose definitely believed in a life after this one. The names of other family members were mentioned, people Rose would be meeting and joining over there. As the poet, Fanny Crosby, wrote, “Oh, the dear ones in glory how they beckon me to come, and their parting at the river I recall.”

After the lunch, siblings and spouses of Rose and her husband, their daughters and families, had a little service at the crematorium. Another round of tears and hugs, then her ashes were left there and we joined the extended family members at a lunch at her oldest daughter’s home. So now the day is over, except for the quiet grieving we’ll all go through.

Loving Little Arms

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is HUG.
In response I’ll offer this poem from Saskatchewan poet Roy Lobb, who was born in Ontario about 1892 and lived in the Melfort, SK, district.

TO MY SON

Two little arms and two little legs
each night would kick and toss;
ten little scratchy finger nails;
all these belonged to Ross.

Ringlets and curls on a high-set brow,
with blue eyes peeking through;
little stub nose and flushy cheeks
as fair as heaven’s dew.

A loving heart in a wee broad chest,
reserved a place for me;
stood near the gate and waved good-bye
as far as I could see.

Two little feet ran down the lane
to meet me coming home;
those happy thoughts I’ll treasure dear
wherever I may roam.

A little brown pup close by his side
would wag his tail in glee;
each night when I came home from work,
they’d want to play with me.

Two little arms around my neck
would start to scratch and tickle,
saying, “Dad, I’ll give you one big hug
if you give me a nickel.”

At close of day he’d climb my knee
and cuddle in a heap,
saying “Daddy, tell me a story now
before I go to sleep.”

Brunch for Mother

The Haiku Foundation Poet’s Dialogue is doing a series on Food and the Senses. I’ve been inspired with that idea, but tend to miss the submission deadlines, so here’s the family brunch I’ve put together.

cutlery clatter
Matthew sets the table
wanted to crack the eggs

thunk thunk the wooden spoon
Jenna stirs the grape juice
pop goes the toaster

Brittany sneezes
Father performs the frying
sprinkling more pepper

Cole opens windows
tries to hush the smoke alarm
mother’s to be surprised

brunch is ready
Mother expresses delight
smoke alarm hiccups