Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Remember the elderly

I have been listening to FamilyTalk broadcasts and highly recommend them.  They cover all sorts of topics relating to the family.  Yesterday and today was about the elderly.  Jay's grandmothers are in a nursing home, I have one in the hospital and another who has some serious health ailments.  I heard this poem on yesterday's broadcast and had to share.  Something to think about when it comes to our aging family.  This poem was shared during a discussion about our elderly and how they are often lonely and in nursing homes.  Many never receive visitors.  I never really thought about these things before.

Photo of me with my paternal grandmother 
who is currently in the hospital (long term care)

Minnie Remembers 
by Donna Swanson

God, my hands are old.
I've never said that out loud before but they are.
I was so proud of them once.
They were soft like the velvet smoothness of a firm, ripe peach.
Now the softness is more like worn-out sheets or withered leaves.
When did these slender, graceful hands become gnarled, shrunken claws?
When, God?
They lie here in my lap; naked reminders of this worn out body that has served me too well.

How long has it been since someone touched me?
Twenty years?
Twenty years I've been a widow.
Respected.
Smiled at.
But never touched.
Never held so close that loneliness was blotted out.

I remember how my mother used to hold me, God.
When I was hurt in spirit or flesh,
she would gather me close,
stroke my silky hair,
and caress my back with her warm hands.
O God, I'm so lonely!

I remember the first boy who ever kissed me.
We were both so new at that!
The taste of young lips and popcorn,
the feeling inside me of mysteries to come.

I remember Hank and the babies.
How else can I remember them but together?
For out of the fumbling, awkward attempts of new lovers
came the babies.
And, as they grew, so did our love.

And, God, Hank didn't seem to mind
if my body thickened and faded a little.
He still loved it and touched it.
And we didn't mind if we were no longer beautiful.
And it felt so good.
And the children hugged me a lot.
O God, I'm lonely!

God, why didn't we raise the kids
to be silly and affectionate
as well as dignified and proper.
You see, they do their duty.
They drive up in their fine cars.
they come to my room
to pay their respects.
they chatter brightly, and reminisce.
But they don't touch me.
they call me Mom, or Mother or Grandma.

Never Minnie.
My mother called me Minnie.
So did my friends.
Hank called me Minnie, too.
But they're gone now.
And so is Minnie.
Only Grandma is here.

And God! She's lonely!

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