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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What I’ve Learned

Yesterday I went through a lot of old papers I’d squirreled away — and did a lot of shredding in the evening. 🙂 Also keyed in a number of items, including the following. I’ve no idea who wrote it, but it sounds like simple, yet profound, wisdom for life.

I’ve learned that…

— you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.

— it’s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.

— you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.

— you can keep going long after you can’t.

— we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.

— either you control your attitude or it controls you.

— heroes are the ones who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.

— money is a lousy way of keeping score.

—my best friend and I can do anything, or nothing, and have the best time.

— sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you’re down will be the ones to help you get back up.

— sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.

— true friendship continues to grow even over the longest distance. Some goes for true love.

— just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.

— maturity has more to do with what sort of life’s experiences you’ve had and what you’ve learned from them, and less to do with how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.

— your family won’t always be there for you. It may seem funny, but people you aren’t related to can take care of you and love you and teach you to trust people again. Families aren’t always biological.

— no matter how good a friends is, they’re going to hurt you every once in awhile and you must forgive them for that.

— it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.

— no matter how bad your heart is broken, the world doesn’t stop for your grief.

— our background and experiences may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.

— just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other. And just because they don’t argue, it doesn’t mean that they do.

— we don’t have to change friends if we understand that friends change.

— you shouldn’t be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever.

— two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.

— your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don’t even know you.

— even when you think you have no more to give when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.

— credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.

— the people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.

Mr Google has helped me out yet again, directing me to a slightly longer version at this site: Roger Knapp.com

Books to Fall Asleep On

I read once that if you’re having trouble falling asleep, start reading a rather boring book. Then, of course, someone else disputed this. Take an exciting book that will hold your attention and get your mind off the events/problems of the day. What do you think? Have you followed either of these suggestions and found success?

After a day of heavy caffeine intake, last night I wasn’t falling asleep like I wanted to, so I thought I’d start on a rather boring book, The Man Who Was Thursday, by G K Chesterton. I’d picked it up one time and hubby suggested I read it, so I read the first chapter Wednesday in between bouts of rearranging the living room book cases.

(Is anyone familiar with the Father Brown mystery series by G K Chesterton?)

Chapter One started in that old-fashioned “proper English” style and I assumed it would carry on in the same rather boring manner. But it got rather interesting at the end of Chapter One — and by the end of Chapter Two I was hooked. This daring young Scotland Yard detective infiltrates a cell of British anarchists and gets himself elected to a very important post. He’s about to sail off and take his place in the “Inner Circle” of seven, each one code-named after the days of the week, the organization’s head being “Sunday.”

I didn’t read further or I’d have been awake all night finding out what happened to him! There’s a hint in the beginning that he thought from time to time about the girl he met in Ch 1 and that he met her again at the end of his adventure, so of course I’d like to know how that panned out.

In contrast I downloaded a free e-book last week and read the opening a few days ago. It starts off with this preface: a lonely, destitute old man, broken by life. But it wasn’t always this way. He thinks back to his youth as a gentleman’s son, to the times when he had everything going for him.

Did I want to read the book and find out the bad choices he made? How things went wrong, how he ended up in this sad state? Nope.

This is a decision an author makes, knowing that it’ll kill some sales. Some readers may be eager to hear the story. For me, if I know the ending why should I read the book? What about you? Does this kind of opening make you curious to read the book, or do you find it rather off-putting?

Back to the topic. I’ve rarely found fiction I could fall asleep on. I need something like an account of the life cycle of a miller moth, or a recap of the War of the Roses.

So I gave up on sleeping last night, rather turned on the computer and did more DropBox sorting. Normally a repetitive task tends to make one sleepy — except that I kept finding stories & poems I wrote some years back and have forgotten the names of. By 3am and after a hot chocolate I was ready to sleep.

They say not being able to sleep is part of old age for some people. It’s definitely hit me. 🙂

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!

One Little Patch

“And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” I Corinthians 12:26

The Apostle Paul is telling us that when one member of the body suffers, the whole body will feel it. I learned this first-hand one day when my tympani, or eardrum, received a tiny patch. A few hours after the deed was done my whole head was suffering with that little spot.

When I was in my thirties I had tubes put in my ear drums so I wouldn’t have to live with tympani-rupturing infections. The tubes remained for years until one by one they fell out, leaving little holes. My ear specialist deemed it wise to patch these holes, one at a time.

Into the operating room I went. He snipped a bit of skin from the back of my ear and tacked it over the hole, then he packed something into the outer ear canal to hold the patch in place.

This procedure called for a general anesthetic, which meant my whole body had to bear with the little member. I couldn’t eat or drink before surgery; my stomach grumbled about that. Coming out of the anesthetic after surgery my stomach felt queasy and my head felt fuzzy and unbalanced. My feet had extra work to keep my woozy body upright when the nurse insisted I take a short walk around the room. Later in the evening I suffered with a cross between a headache and an earache. All because of one microscopic piece of skin.

Thankfully the operation was successful, the site’s healed nicely and I no longer have a hole in that eardrum.

The Apostle Paul was speaking of the Church, referred to as the earthly body of Jesus Christ. As we become members of that holy body of believers, “knit together in love,” when one suffers everyone feels it. Every member has a place to fill, a work to do in the body, and if one is weak or AWOL others have to make corrections for him or her. I appreciate how much my fellow Christians bear with my faults.

We all have some weaknesses and irritating habits others need to bear with. Some Christians are recovering from past emotional damage. They may be fearful and suspicious. We’ve all been scarred by the consequences of temptations we’ve yielded to. And we’re not surrounded by people who always speak kind, edifying words. Gossip and harsh words from family, neighbours and co-workers may wound us. Plus, the Bible warns us that our enemy hurls “fiery darts” our way and some of them hit tender spots.

Unlike medical men, God makes repairs without knocking the his children out. If we are willing and obedient to follow directions, He brings us into situations that strengthen our weak areas and gives us courage in spite of our shortcomings. We can be serving Him to the best of our ability, still He constantly performs those small surgeries necessary to cure our hurts, fears, frustrations. Over time He skillfully removes our “baggage” without crippling after-effects.

This healing, straightening process is called sanctification. Like “Be patient; God isn’t finished with me yet.”

I’m glad the doctor is finished with my ears. I’d be absolutely delighted to never need any more repairs, big or small. But I trust the Lord will keep on operating on me, so I can be an effective member of His Church.

“So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Romans 12:5

Short Time to Travel Together

One day a young girl on her way home boarded a city bus and took a seat. Mary enjoyed the ride for the first few blocks, but then a large lady sat down beside her, taking up most of the seat and squashing Mary up against the window.

Worse yet, the woman was hanging onto several big packages; these bumped Mary in the face whenever the bus jounced or the woman shifted in her seat. She was thankful when the woman finally reached her destination and got off.

Later she told her brother about her ride home and he became indignant on her behalf. “Why didn’t you just tell her she should move over and stop crowding you. After all, you were in the seat first.”

“Oh, well,” Mary replied. “We had such a little way to travel together. I thought I could bear it for that short while.”

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At times we feel we can hardly put up with certain people, co-workers or relatives. Their attitudes or behavior just grates on us. We’re all into the moment and think this will never end. Then in a short while they’re gone from our lives and we carry on, a bit relieved. Later we may even look back and appreciate some aspect of their personalities, or some lesson we learned from them. If we adopt Mary’s attitude, the ride can be less irritating.

In the end we’ll see that we had such a short distance to go together.

“Our understanding of how to live with one another is still far behind our knowledge of how to destroy one another.” – Lyndon B Johnson