Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the double-ass ugly. Comments welcome! Jean

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Crank Old Man and the One Who Was Not

People who work in mental health or at nursing homes may already be aware of the poem below. I found it on Facebook a few days ago but when I cross-checked its authenticity on the web I discovered that it goes by at least five different titles and as many people have been credited for writing it. All of the versions come with an introduction that the handwritten poem was found in with the meager possessions of an old man (or an old women---there’s a version written in a female voice) who died recently. That part of the poem’s history is quite understandable because when ever a poem appears in print---which this has many times---someone ends up copying it for their own use but they fail to properly credit its source. (As a would-be writer I hate when that happens!) Then when the person with a hand-copied poem dies in Florida, Australia, Scotland or wherever---someone discovering the poem assumes their elderly patient or parent actually created the poem and they submit it to be printed in a magazine. Again. This has been going on with this poem for decades, apparently, and I have no doubt it will continue taking the same path for many more. And just to prove that point, here I am doing the same, copying the poem for my own use and for my heirs to find.

Why Can't I Join the Red Hat Society?

Growing old, one of the biggest fears I have is one we probably all share…that of being anonymous in a nursing home with no voice to tell the people around us who we are, who we used to be. To be just another patient in a sea of patients to be washed, fed and turn over in our beds is a scary thought. This is what makes this poem speak so loudly to me and no doubt to countless other people in the sunset years of their lives. It especially speaks to me as I get closer to the first anniversary of Don’s passing. It reminds me of how grateful I am that Don didn’t have to suffer the indignities of living and dying in a nursing home. He was also grateful that after his stroke he was able to come home after four months of struggling in the hospital and rehab to get the limited measure of recovery he got. In the twelve years he lived post-stroke he never lost sight of what a hard-earned gift that was and he woke up every morning singing at the top of his lungs. We could all take a lesson from his heart that was so full of gratitude and love for the routines of just living an ordinary life. ©


The Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you're looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . ... . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .'I do wish you'd try!'
Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . ... lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he'll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . ..my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don't mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. ...Babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future ... . . . . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I've known.
I'm now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It's jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I'm loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. .... . ME!!


Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within ... . . .we will all, one day, be there, too!

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