What Price Friendship?

today I’m responding to the Writer’s Digest April PAD Challenge, which is to start a poem — and title it — What —. (You fill in the blank and go from there. So here’s my response, derived from an incident in my early working days.

What Price Friendship?

A WWI vet in our care home,
gassed in the trenches,
in sad shape but hanging on
kind of lonely, ready for someone
to take an interest in him.

Then you started working,
befriended the old guy.
Chatty, friendly, living nearby,
you could pop over anytime
to visit, laugh at his jokes.

Always glad to run an errand,
share a drink – or two or three.
He enjoyed your visits
so much, told us you were
like a daughter to him.

In time the old man passed;
his family came to arrange
his funeral — and were shocked
when they discovered
Dad’s bank account drained.
What!? When? Who
had taken Dad to the bank?
An unsolved mystery.

Funny thing. Later I recalled
you telling me about some
lonely old fellow on the block
where you once lived, how
you’d become such good friends.
When he died, he left you
all his earthy goods.
After all, he had no one else.

And I wondered…

Mrs Conrad

Here’s my second attempt at a triolet, with its rhyming scheme of A B a A a b A B. The 1st, 4th, and 7th lines are repeated, and the 2nd and 8th lines repeated.

Mrs Conrad

Mrs Conrad who sits right beside
my grandmother at the care home
she speaks of her family with pride
Mrs Conrad who sits right beside
in her spot by the warm fireside
ever hoping her children will come
Mrs Conrad who sits right beside
my grandmother at the care home

Birthday Musings

Since April is National Poetry Month, this can be my verse for Day One. I wrote this on March 27, 2015 and have given it a fresh polishing.

Birthday Musings

Today I’ll bake myself a cake
and thank God I’m growing old.
Arthritis is a pain sometimes,
and my short-term memory short circuits,
but I still get around on my own two feet,
and, wandering room to room, I usually
recall what I’m here after.

I still have friends among the living,
a few relatives that care to call,
descendants to congratulate me,
and coffee to boost my “young at heart”
when my get-up-and-go takes off.

I may not be lovely growing old,
as that old poem recounts 
with sentimental flair;
I feel like “old lace” that’s lost it’s starch
or ivory with a few chipped edges.

No, I’m not so gracefully growing old – 
“graceful” slipped away some years ago – 
but, Lord, this my prayer for my senior years:
may I grow more grateful as I’m growing old.
Floral art image by JL G — Pixabay

Cutting the Mustard

Good morning everyone. The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is MUSTARD — and yesterday’s prompt was HORN. I’ll touch on the two in one quick sweep.

I wonder how many prompt followers will think of the old song, “He’s Too Old to Cut the Mustard Anymore.” Probably not many, as this song was popular before I was born. I only dimly remember it, and my mom singing snatches of it around the house sometimes. In this song a fellow is blowing his horn about all the things he could do when he was young…but the frailty of old age has set in and his mobility is limited. Once the girls were all eager to spend time with him. Now “they push you around in a four-wheeled chair.” If you’re interested, you can read the lyrics here.

My Dad Vance would have identified with this song. Always a physically fit and active man, when he was in his seventies he’d walk the seventeen miles from Moose Jaw to Belle Plaine to visit his sister, no problem. But his one hand was starting to shake — the beginnings of the Parkinson’s disease that finally immobilized him. He hated the thought of being tied in a wheel chair, but for him it became a reality because he couldn’t get up and walk by himself.

Of course there’s the MUSTARD plant…and wild mustard. This is canola country and wild mustard, a close cousin to canola, is a real nuisance if it infests a canola field. Wild mustard seeds remain viable in the soil for many years, they sprout mid-spring, plants establish quickly, and anything that will kill it will kill its cousin, too. Worse, here in western Canada it’s developed a resistance to most weed killers. This picture is from Cornell University’s Agricultural Weed ID site.

For comparison, here’s a Pixabay photo of canola in bloom:

Image by GayleenFroese2 — Pixabay

I think that’s enough about old age and wild mustard. Monday morning laundry is waiting for my attention. Have a great week, everyone.

Family Then & Now

It’s a lovely sunny day today; the temp started at -16 this morning and has climbed to -11 C. Which doesn’t sound awfully warm, but the sun is condensing our banks of snow and putting a hard crust on the surface. Forecast for tomorrow is +1 C; Monday -10. Exactly the kind of up-and-down temps we’ve been having so far this year.

I talked to my sister Wilma last night; still no definite plans for our sister Donna’s burial and the family get together for a Celebration of Life. A lot depends on what sentence the judge will hand out to her youngest son when his court case comes up in a few weeks. The other boys definitely want to wait until he can be there. They’ve no idea what he’s charged with, so are quite much in the dark as to how long he’ll be in custody.

Because a few people in my family have expressed interest in our history, I’ve been posting on the Vance-Turner Connect blog again. Starting out with some of the aspects — and trials — of doing family research. Like the duplication of names. On my latest post I used the heading, Joseph the son of Joseph the son of Joseph. That’s exactly how it was: the oldest children were named after the grandparents, then the uncles & aunts. Then to sort them all out…

It’s a good thing, yet a danger, that subscribers to a genealogy program like Ancestry or MyHeritage can access other genealogists’ family trees and borrow research. I’ve learned that you MUST be very careful to double check before you import data or you can get really mixed up. Birth & baptism registrations, marriage certificates, census records, all help a lot re: whose child is this.

Some researcher has listed an Alexander in our family tree, as the youngest brother of our gr-gr-grandfather, but the birth registration says his father was Robert, not David. I discovered yesterday that someone lists gr-gr-grandfather as Joseph Collville Vance — someone he never was — and go from there to add descendants our gr-gr-grand never had. Grafting their branch onto the wrong tree, you might say. Now a few others have copied that researcher’s error, skewing all their data as well.

For me, following all these lines is like doing a jigsaw puzzles, and I enjoy putting them together. I cooked supper at the Senior’s home last night and one couple were working on a 1000-piece puzzle — a painting of the Last Supper. They were having a hard time getting it together. I have younger eyes, also a very keen sense of color and can detect slight differences between two shades of, say, sky blue, gray or creamy marble, so I helped them and we got quite a bit put together before I left.

Well, enough rambling. I’m doing a bit bunch of laundry today and best get back to it. 🙂

I Can’t Find It

Word of the Day Challenge: MIND

Which brings to my mind an incident my daughter told me about:


My daughter was doing her cleaning job at a local nursing home when she noticed one of the elderly residents wandering around, obviously looking for something. Every now and then he’d mutter, “I just can’t find it.”

Finally our daughter thought maybe she could help him find it, so she touched his arm and asked him, “What are you looking for, sir?”

“I’m looking for my mind,” he told her. “I’ve lost my mind and I can’t find it.”

She suppressed the urge to laugh, for the Alzheimer patient was quite serious. Right at that moment he had enough sense to realize he couldn’t grasp the information he needed and this was prompting him to search for his missing marbles.

One lady from our church began getting mixed up and forgetting things, when she was in her mid 60s. She realized this and was dismayed because she could see what was coming; Alzheimer’s was in her family genetics. And the disease did come. She lived about ten years without her memory, though a few flashes came through now and then. She lost her power of speech later on; during her last few years she was bed-fast and helpless.

With dementia it seems like the brain connections become loose and the current doesn’t flow through anymore. Once in awhile there will be a spark travel from the eyes or ears to the brain and make connection; they’ll recognize a face or a familiar song will touch a chord. The person who maybe hasn’t spoken for years suddenly joins in and sings along. A moment later they can’t remember where they are, or even who they are.

Last spring a relative, who was fine when her daughter saw her that day, went to bed as usual and died in her sleep. Her daughter thinks death was caused by an aneurysm, but the mom got her wish to go quickly and with no fuss, never a burden to anyone. Which is the way we all want to go: in fairly good health and with a clear mind.