Bittersweet

She toddles
as she gets up
and hurries to
the phone
careful not to
lose her balance
and fall…again.

I watch from my
chair next to hers
where we had been
talking moments
before and notice
she has left her
cane behind…again.

In a few short months
we have become trusted
friends and I have listened
to the stories of her extravagant
and privileged life.  Strong-willed
she chose differently for her
life than her parents.

She eloped with the love of her life.
She filled her home with children,
knowing that an only child’s
life…even though a life of
opulence could be a lonely one.

Now her life has been reduced,
diminished, moderated by
old age and ill health.
Once so vibrant and engaged
with life and doing…for others,
she now relies on them and
marvels at the state that her
life has become.  And yet
she still has a sense of humor
and giggles and shakes
her head to think that she is the
mother of a now seventy year old.

She heaps me with compliments
as she eyes what I’ve worn each
time we meet and tells me I’m
“adorable” and “precious”.  Once
dressed impeccably as the wife
of a successful executive and
as the daughter of a wealthy
entrepreneur, dressing gowns
and robes are now her attire.

Still feeling the sting
of wanting more of her parents’
love and attention as a child,
she tells me again and again
of how she would often be
left with maids and chauffeurs.

Even many passing years
don’t always alleviate the
slights of our youth.

Tony Maude is hosting Open Link Night over at dVerse Poets: http://dversepoets.com/2014/01/14/open-link-night-week-128/

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28 Comments

  1. i am glad she has you to hear those stories…and that the slights of youth have stuck with her this far says much…things we should be listening to…

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    • I love listening to her life stories…you just wouldn’t believe it. And in spite of her privileged life and having so much, she tells of being lonesome for her parents’ attention. She’s 90 years old…

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  2. this is a beautiful write – thank you for sharing it and reminding us of what is important.

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  3. Even many passing years
    don’t always alleviate the
    slights of our youth.

    …indeed…felt.

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  4. Your poem tells us much about how we should treat each other…both at the beginning and the end.

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  5. A wonderful share, Gayle. I think you have captured the life of this elderly woman very well. Interesting, I think, how even though she had a successful life she still looks back at her childhood and wishes she had more time with her parents. I think this is something young parents of today should think about…. Children are young only once, but their memories last a lifetime. Though this woman is hampered by her age and physical challenges, it sounds like she still is a vibrant person, enjoys life, maintains her sense of humor. I am sure your visits are gifts to her. Time is the best gift one can give to someone, I think. I visit regularly an older woman too. I understand what you are saying in your poem.

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    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Mary…I appreciate that. I think it has helped that I’m not a part of her family and has not heard all of her stories too. Family members can tend to tune out when the same stories are told over and over again. She’s a dear person and I’m very happy to be spending time with her…she has told me how grateful she is that we have met. I’m grateful too. I don’t think she realizes how vibrant she still is…she’s focusing on her losses instead of what she still has going for her. Only sometimes though…I think I’m a good distraction for her!

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  6. I have been with “her” so many times in my life of caring for the elderly. In between the lines you read the loneliness that someone like you can change so kindly.

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    • I’m sure you have, Victoria. I know I make a difference in her life and help her not feel so distant from the world. She really is a fascinating and fun person…I like her company very much. She’s precious…

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  7. Gayle I am so pleased to be reading your wonderful words again, You spin them is such delight and detail.. I was seeing the elderly lady, and yet saw her youthfulness and grace… We go full circle all too soon, as we need help in balancing when learning to walk as toddlers and again as we age we become unsteady upon our feet.. You captured this wonderfully..
    Thank you for dropping into to Dreamwalker’s too , such a delight seeing your there xx

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    • Thanks for coming by, Sue…always love seeing you here too. Yes, it is as if we come full circle in our lives…ending as we began. She has a wonderful sense of humor and laugh but can be a little “edgy” too. Delightful!

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  8. poetrypea

     /  January 16, 2014

    So many children grow up like this, and much worse. Children should all enjoy being treasured. I enjoyed reading this.
    Ciao
    Pea

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    • You’re so right, Pea…all children should be treasured. She knows she has led a very unusually blessed life in many ways but still…missed feeling treasured sometimes. I’m gratified that you enjoyed this…thank you.

      Gayle~

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  9. There is pain that never goes away.

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  10. So poignant, it brings tears to my eyes. Thank you, Gayle :)

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  11. Just lovely, Gayle, there is so much richness in listening to the old … the wisdom but also the rawness of lives lived, of paths traveled, of regrets and no regrets, of sadnesses and joy. Of endurance, but, oh, so much more than survival. XO

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    • Diane, how lovely to see you here and thank you for your sensitive comment. So very true. Sometimes I wish I could ease her emotional pain more…she really struggles with her circumstances. xoxo

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