Friends and Poetry

I had a lovely day with Mother today.

When I arrived, Aunt and Cecily were there. They visit almost every Saturday. Cecily knows Mother from the church where they both worshipped. They share the same birthday, though twenty-six years apart. Cecily’s husband used to do Mother’s hair. He was a fitness fanatic who watched what he ate with the eye of a hawk and adored Mother. Then eight years ago, he had a huge stroke, and has been childlike ever since. To put it mildly, Cecily has a lot on her plate , and her loyalty to her friendship with Mother is admirable. Their mutual affection is evident, and I know that Mother benefits from her visits. Without Cecily’s dedication, Aunt would not be able to visit either. She’s not going to get a gong, but I do believe she deserves one.

When Cecily and Aunt left, I made us lunch; ratatouille for me, gluten free chipolata sausages with mashed swede and carrot for Mother. It was her sixty-second wedding anniversary. We had an almond traybake; a new gluten free offering from M&S which we loved. Lots and lots of apple juice. Mother was pretty lucid today and we had some good chats, but the best bits were, again, down to poetry.  We found some new ones that we really liked; John Betjeman’s poem about the church mouse whose space is invaded by other, non-god-fearing rodents at harvest festival made us smile, and chatter for several minutes. The Listeners is our favourite. I’m not sure how I’m going to feel about this poem when Mother dies. We explored some more De la Mare. We liked Silver.

Just before I left, we returned to the books I’d given Mother with children’s poems. I read No Matter What by Debbie Gliori, and then read it again because we both enjoyed it so much. The more poetry I read, the calmer Mother became. And the more relaxed I became. and the more both of us enjoyed ourselves. Fabulous.

I needed to go, so I pulled out The Owl and the Pussycat with gorgeous illustrations by Anne Mortimer. The last picture is stunning. It also helped to remind Mother that Cat was alone on Das Boot. So she let me go quite easily; telling me to kiss him from her, and to tell him she’d love to see him. Usually she tries to keep me with a problem that she unleashes just as I’m going, so I feel guilty and fraught as I leave. This was lovely; we kissed, hugged, rubbed  noses and it was so easy.

I spoke about Poetry Power before. Today  showed me that power all over again.


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12 thoughts on “Friends and Poetry

  1. Lovely day for you both. I’m just wondering whether you would be able to record some poetry readings that your mum could listen to when you weren’t there since it seems to have such a good effect on her? Although perhaps it is so beneficial because you are with her to read to her.

  2. Hello Girls
    Recordings don’t do it Sophie; it’s the human interaction that works. I’ve yet to find a carer who enjoys reading aloud, though I have suggested that they might be able to bring in a performance poet to do a session with everyone. No result yet.
    These sessions are good for me as well. We both enjoy ourselves. As you know, it can feel rather bleak and depressing being with someone who is anxious and confused; this has proved the magic ingredient that helps us both relax and laugh, cry and smile together. Also she liked my “How Long is Your Cat’ ditty, so I got praise too!
    Mind you, you should have heard my mother’s exclamation of happiness when she tasted the almond traybake. M&S could have signed her up for an advert there and then!

  3. Haha – it looks lovely and I’ve just ordered it! Certainly worth a look I think, particularly with the work were putting in around attachment and belonging. Thanks for that Isobel

  4. Isobel, good evening.

    I suppose I’ve been ‘lucky’. My Mum and Dad both shuffled off in their mid-70’s with intact minds, albeit infirm bodies.

    So, I have never walked in your shoes and never will. I may, of course, be walking in your mother’s shoes at some point in the not too distant future. If so, I hope that I will have somebody as willing as you to take the time, trouble and love to remember and celebrate the person that I was.

    And ‘The Listeners’ is a total cracker of a poem, in my opinion. Definitely one of my favourites as well.

    • Hi John
      I was over on your page the other day to see your story, but it’s not there! Bilby said it was excellent. Congrats to you on your win.
      And if you do walk in her shoes, hopefully someone will also celebrate the person you have become. And make sure you have your slippers on the right feet!

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