Monday, 11 November 2019

Poetry Monday: Glasses

It's Poetry Monday, and the topic this week is ........ GLASSES.

Join Diane (who provided the topic), MotherOwl, Mimi, Merry Mae and me as we polish our thoughts on glasses of any kind, whether the ones you wear or the ones from which you drink. You can leave your poem in the comments or post on your own blog; if you do the latter, please leave a comment so we can track you down. Use the topic, or choose another; the objective is to have fun and work our brains :)

*****

I've worn glasses since I was eight years old.

Those glasses came in the iconic frames from each decade: cat's-eye in the sixties, wire granny glasses in the seventies, the huge window panes and heavy frames of the eighties, the wire frames (again) in the nineties, the half-rimless specs and the very small lenses of the first decade of the new century, which -- may I say -- were the absolute worst, even worse than cat's eye frames, because it was like looking through a peephole, fer cryin' out loud.

Currently I am wearing super-light frames made from a strong and flexible metal that I'm awfully glad I chose when I had the chance, because I recently stepped on them and they didn't even get bent, let alone break.

Let me pause here to painfully remember how many times I broke either the bridge or the earpiece of plastic frames when I was a kid, and wore taped-up glasses to school for weeks while waiting for a replacement. Any of you who wore the same kind of frames in the same time period of your life probably know what I'm talking about.

Over the years, my lenses have gone from coke-bottle-thick to ultra-thin due to industry improvements and also due to my cataract surgery that installed partially-corrective artificial lenses in my peepers, allowing me -- for the first time since I was that eight-year-old child -- to get up in the morning without needing to slap on my spectacles first.

But recently I have wished with all my heart for a new kind of glasses -- the kind that would help me see into other people's wounded hearts and minds, and make me a kinder, more understanding person.

Especially with my mom. She is suffering cognitive decline, which includes both memory loss and impaired logical thinking. She will ask me the same questions over and over, some of them intrusive and overbearing and some of them just annoying. Most of the time I just give the same answers over and over, but sometimes, for whatever reason -- if I'm feeling unwell, or tired, or in a time crunch, or just because I want my old mom back -- I will hotly point out that she's asked that same exact question several times already. Then her mask of self-sufficiency slips, she laughs vaguely and says, yes, you are right, and I feel like a monster for saying aloud what her faulty memory is allowing her to forget.

This week's poem is about the vision I need at this stage in my life as a daughter.

*****

In Which I Also Make Excuses, And Feel Guilty

Her eyes, once so sharp, once so clear and so blue
Are watery now, and a hazier hue.
She searches for words and forgets people's names,
And tells the same stories again and again.

I tell myself patience I'd easier find
If only she'd listen to my keener mind,
If only she'd do what I've planned she should do,
If only her stubbornness she would subdue . . .

But she's always been feisty, relied on herself,
Used her own brain, made her choices on health.
And even though now her thought processes fail 
She doesn't want help and her word must prevail.

And so I am set off by trivial things,
And fail to allow for the changes age brings:
The lapses in memory, and constant repeats --
The deficits youthful minds scorn and defeat.

I wish I could see the pathways in Mom's brain:
The damage . . . short-circuits . . . cells circling the drain.
But insight's elusive . . . flawed vision, you know . . .  
How I wish there were glasses to help make it so.
  

Image: Pixabay

*****

Next week's topic will be ............ NEIGHBOURS (or "neighbors" without the "u", if you insist :))


Have a good week, everyone.



  

41 comments:

  1. it's quite moving poem. It is not easy dealing with elderly parents and at least my mother is mentally ok, though frail.

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  2. I wish you luck with your mom. Briana's mom is at that stage as well, and she can really be a handful, and not always by accident.
    I had the best eyes among my siblings, as my brother had thick glasses and my sister had to have an operation on her eyes when she was a toddler and her glasses as a child were unwieldy. I remember how happy she was in Junior High when she got hard contact lenses.
    I was OK until 7th grade, when I was growing really fast and one day found that I couldn't read what the teacher was writing on the chalkboard.
    I tried contact lenses for a couple of years, but found they didn't work well with some activities that were important to me, like racing motorcycles and cooking professionally, so I went back to glasses.
    Then in 2014, my vision began to get blurry, and by the time I managed to get to the optometrist for a new prescription, my cataracts were so severe that I couldn't read anything on his eye charts at all.
    I talked to my sister about it and she told me that she'd had her eyes done a few years before, and the operation was easy enough that the surgeon could probably do it in their sleep, and that I'd end up looking back on it as one of the best things that ever happened to me.
    My sister is very smart, and everything she said was exactly true.
    I have a pair of reading glasses I bought at Walmart for ten bucks that I wear to use the computer or read, but other than that I don't need glasses at all, and my close in vision is good enough that I can text on my tiny little non-smart phone without my readers if I need to.
    Glasses were always kind of a pain, but all I had to do to be thankful for them was break them and try to function without them until they could be replaced or fixed.
    And don't even get me started about having to fix my glasses while not wearing any glasses...

    I would say that I like your poem but don't really know whether that's an appropriate thing to say given the subject.

    -Doug now north of Oakland

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    1. Thanks, Doug. And I agree, your sister was right about the cataract surgery. Fixing glasses while not wearing any glasses - I hear you! A real Catch-22.

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  3. Your poem is so good and so very touching. I've been there and I understand.

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    1. Thank you, Bonnie - it's another of those things that build character, I guess.

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  4. That would be a handy pair of glasses indeed. I didn't get glasses until I was 22. I'd managed all thought school somehow in spite of being long sighted and having crossed vision.

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    1. Those are two complicated conditions at once, River. You did well.

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  5. Such glasses would be a blessing in the rigth hands and a curse if they fell in the wrong hands. It was a well written poem, and I feel your pain.

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    1. You're right about being a curse in the wrong hands. I hadn't thought of that. I guess there would have to be a test before a person could get them :)

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  6. That is a really nice poem! It is not easy dealing with elderly parents. I feel like you do with my mother. My patience is tested some days. We do the best we can.

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    1. It really brings out something in me that I wish wasn't there, Martha. I guess the only thing to do is to keep trying.

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  7. Beautiful poem, Jenny! What would those glasses be worth? And could they please come with a healthy dose of patience. Just for me?
    There was a video I watched with my class a couple of years ago. A person put on some glasses and saw what each person was struggling with in their lives in a little tab over their heads. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AbT1lT7Bu8

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    1. There is a great message in that little video, Diane. It made me tear up.

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  8. Very thoughtful. We have a difficult time to accept and deal with the irrational. We could make a long list of special glasses.

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  9. I like your poem. It addresses issues we don't like to always think or talk about. We will all meet some crisis that is similar. I think writing poetry about these things can bring some clarity. Poetry just addresses it a different way than writing in prose.

    I am wondering if you are following me. I thought you were, but didn't see my blog listed.

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    1. I didn't see a follow button before; I'll go back and find it, MM. Following makes it so much easier to keep up.

      I think you're right about writing bringing clarity. I always feel like a have a better focus when I've written about an issue in either prose or poetry.

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  10. Such a heartrending and beautiful poem about a situation that is so hard. I know you are kind to your mother, despite the moments that feel overwhelming. I share your glasses journey down to the last detail.

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    1. I do try but I feel I fail often, 37p.

      Some of those glasses I would rather forget about :)

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  11. Millions of people across the country have the same wish Jenny. Love your poem!

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    1. You're right, Marie - so many folks are dealing with the same thing or something like it.

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  12. A sobering thoughtful poem, Jenny.

    Just before she died my Mum had dementia which she didn't have long. Some days when I rang her she was like her old self and I doubted that she had dementia, but then, only occasionally, she would say something that was a bit far fetched. I would like to have spent time with her on my own when I visited, so that we could have a good chat about things as we used to do, but my husband, brother and sister-in-law were also there which made it a bit awkward. This fact haunts me still.

    I have hree pairs of glasses! One for distance, one for reading and a pair for the computer. This is because of my balance problems with the MS I can't have the bi- or vari-focals. It gets a bit confusing as they have similar cases and two pairs have similar frames. Keeps me on my toes though.

    As always take care and have a good week.

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    1. Very confusing indeed!

      It is hard to have regrets. But you did the best you could under the circumstances, and that's all you should expect of yourself. It's all your mother would have wanted too.

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    1. Now if I can only act on that I'll be happy.

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  14. All of us need such glasses, called empathy. It can be easier, sometimes, to give to strangers than to our family from whom we expect more.

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    1. So very true, Mimi. It doesn't seem like it should be that way but sometimes it is.

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  15. Hi Jenny, I'm sorry to hear about your mom's failing health. Don't fault yourself for being human. You're not a robot-you can't program yourself to always be understanding and wonderful. I'll bet you are both those things more than most. Glasses. I am now totally reliant on reading glasses. I keep threatening to go out and buy a fashionable, real pair with glass lenses but I keep going to the dollar store instead and buying six or seven unfashionable pairs at a time, which I plant in all my usual places so a pair is always nearby. I recently bought one of those necklaces that you attach your glasses to so that you don't have to push them up on your head (and then forget about them and starting looking all over for your glasses until someone finally clues you in, with a snicker and an eye roll). I haven't decided whether I find this mode more convenient. I might if my necklace was better functioning but I bought it at the dollar store also and my glasses keep falling off it.

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    1. LOL, Chicken :) This sounds like me and the dollar store also, ha ha! You're just being smart! I wore dollar store magnifiers after eye surgery while waiting for the six week post-surgery period to pass before I could get prescription lenses. They allowed me to actually work for a couple of hours a day on the computer. And I liked having a couple different pairs with different frames. What decadence! lol

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    2. Also, I appreciate your kind comment. I'm not sure I'm doing all that well, actually. It's so much harder with my mom than it was with my dad.

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  16. this is really touching sharing dear jenny

    i am glad to read bit longer post from you this time

    i thoroughly enjoyed first half about your own glass journey and believe me it sounded familiar because my mom used to loose her glass after sometimes when she was in her last two years specially
    and when it came about breaking the glasses with plastic frame ,you could not defeat me i think :)

    then your words got heavier with sentiments which either i suffered with when my parents were old and dealing with same issues
    i know how painful it is to seeing your most reliable and most loved one person to go through such miserable situation
    all i can say that we all heading to same direction so by using our imagination we can see ourselves there and can realize how we want to be treated by our children !

    your longing for glasses of deep love and concern in your lovely poem shows how much you love your mom my friend !
    sending you much love and strength ,wishing you blessed happy times with your mom and your own family !
    hugs!

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    1. 'all i can say that we all heading to same direction so by using our imagination we can see ourselves there and can realize how we want to be treated by our children !'

      Baili, you always get to the heart of any issue, and your comment today is no exception. I thank you for reminding me of this just when I needed it. I'm so grateful to have your friendship and thoughtful wisdom. Hugs, my friend.

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  17. I admire and respect your honesty. I work in gerentology and your reaction to your Mom and attendent feelings of guilt are very, very common. It is all mixed up with grieving the loss of your mother even though she is still physically present and our psyche isn't very good at sorting it out. Don't beat yourself up. I've found the Alzeheimers Society extremely good for giving advice to families. Baili's advice is good for in the moment application. I often say to a patient when we are going around in circles-"O.K. I'm going to have to take one of my patience pills". It often elicits a laugh from both of us. Hugs.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts on this, Susan. I'll check the Alzheimers website for help.

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  18. My first glasses were plastic cat-eye frames in shades of rose and blue - EVER so fashionable back when I was in Grade 4!

    Your poem tugged at my heart. I'm so sorry your mom is suffering from dementia. It's such a crappy condition, stealing your mom's memory and marring the happy memories you have of her. By now the effects of your mother's memory problems are likely more devastating for you than they are for her. I hope you're able to get some respite care for her - you're doing the best you can, and you need a break to take care of yourself, too. As to your wish for patience and understanding, I'd say you already have it in spades. Sending supportive thoughts your way...

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    1. As yet, the time commitment for mom's care is not onerous; she still lives by herself and is okay for the day to day things. I tend to be called into action when there is an unexpected medical problem, and always in a "crisis" kind of way. My nerves can't take it :) Thank you for your thoughts and insights, Diane. I think you're right that mom's memory issues are a bigger problem for me than for her, and that's a good point for me to remember.

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