Monday 5 June 2017

Poetry Monday: June

I've written about my father's last eight years of life after his paralyzing stroke, and his final months leading up to his death in June, two years ago. Spring, once my favourite season, is now full of bittersweet memories.

With my mother's recent health issues, I find that spring has been burdened with additional poignancy. This year's greening of land and trees took place while my mom was ill, just as it did when my father was approaching the end of his life. I had plenty of deja vu and a good dose of new anxious moments in May.

When I was helping my mom, and earlier when I was helping my dad, I often thought of the reversal of roles when our parents grow old - that is, if we are fortunate enough to have them grow old. After our parents spend so many years being the older, wiser ones in the relationship -- the ones who give advice on houses, cars, child-raising, and jobs, who still call us "the kids," who want us to call when we get safely home after visiting them -- there may come a point where the responsibility and decisions and assistance and oversight become the duty of the adult child.

I think this is why my father's death affected me so deeply and for so long. I did not resume life the way I thought I would after his death. He lived a long life, and his death released him from poor health and distressing disability, and so there were those in his life who felt I should not have grieved as I did. We were very close because we were very similar in nature, but the loss was more than the loss of a loved parent. The day he had his stroke he became, in a way, my child as well as my parent, and his death was, in a way, the death of my child as well as my father.

So that is the background to this poem on this Poetry Monday in June, the month of my father's birth and death, the month of Father's Day here in Canada, which always came on or around my father's birthday, the month when my mother is once again relatively healthy but I am all too aware that the outcome could have been different.

I know that many people out there, those I know in real life and those I know in blogland, have been through this already, or are going through it, or will go through it eventually. No matter what our relationships with our parents are like, when duty calls, many of us must answer. I am not alone; you are not alone; we are not alone.


My Parent, My Child

There is a kind of symmetry to life
When the child of the parent
Becomes the parent,
And the parent becomes --
At least by times --
The child.

In the beginning,
Mother and father care for the newborn,
Raise the toddler and adolescent,
Cheer on the young adult;
All the while
Feeding, nursing, advising, comforting.

In the end,
The child, now middle-aged -- or more --
Turns the picture on its head,
Helps to give the hourglass a final turn,
As time runs out for mom or dad;
And feeding, nursing, advising, comforting
Are gifts most tender,
Returned to the giver.

I wish for strength, for wisdom, for compassion.
I wish for patience, and gentleness, and good humour.
I wish for good memories to be stronger than sad ones.
I wish these things for me;
And, if you have ever had parents of any kind,
I wish them for you.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.


Don't forget to hop over to visit Diane and Delores, who also have poetry posted today. And join us in the comments or on your own blog! If you post your poem on your blog, please leave your blog link in the comments so we can find you.


Elephant's Child said...

Thank you.
A poignant truth.

LL Cool Joe said...

My Dad died 2 years ago in May, so I can relate to all you have said here in this post. Lovely poem.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Effective poetry addresses and distils true feeling and sometimes that feeling is uncomfortable or it begs to be swept beneath a carpet. Thank you for sharing "My Parent, My Child" Jenny.

only slightly confused said...

That was so beautiful and so very real. Most of us over 55 have had or will have this very experience. It IS bitterssweet and yes, you wish for happy memories. For a little while after the parent has gone, those happy memories will be overcome by the sad memories..but eventually...the happy moments come back to you and they are mostly what you remember.

Red said...

Yes, child becoming parent is difficult to get your head around. I also think that for parents who are aware that it must be difficult for them to give up and accept the reversed roles. Super post.

Joanne Noragon said...

And above all, compassion. My mother told me "Thank you" before she died.

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

Oh, my goodness! This is amazing!
I especially love the lines:
And feeding, nursing, advising, comforting
Are gifts most tender,
Returned to the giver.

jenny_o said...

Thank you, EC. It's a truth I didn't see coming, at the time.

jenny_o said...

Thank you, Joey. I'm glad your dad had you to help him through.

jenny_o said...

I'm glad to have understanding readers to share it with, YP - thanks.

jenny_o said...

I'm yet to reach that time, but I hope you're right and it will happen for me. Thanks for reading, Delores.

jenny_o said...

Very, very true, Red - my dad did that very gracefully and it helped a great deal. Thanks for your kind comment.

jenny_o said...

My dad did, too, and it was heartwrenching. I'm glad your mother had the chance to do so.

jenny_o said...

Thank you, Diane. I know you are all too familiar with the topic and the emotions.

Janie Junebug said...

That's a beautiful post and poem. The older I get, the more I miss my parents.


jenny_o said...

Yes ... I also find that as I go through the stages my parents did, I understand them better and feel closer to them than ever. Thanks for reading, Janie.

37paddington said...

This is so true. There is a gaping void when they go, relief that they are free of pain and brokenness but also such loss of them, a lifetime of them, too. Your mother is blessed to have a daughter like you.

Anonymous said...

A lovely tribute to our elderly parents. My 93 year old mother died nearly two years ago and she is always in my thoughts. I always thought she would outlast me as she was so strong mentally and until the last year or so of her life, physically. At 67 years of age I felt she had abandoned me, how silly is that, but I felt she would last forever. My father died when I was 15 years old and that was hard as I never really knew him.

Apart from your poem I don't see any others. Are you still accepting poems? I don't want to be the only one.

Joan (Wales)

dinthebeast said...

That is a beautiful poem, Jenny.
The "we are not alone" remark did remind me of a woman I met in rehab from my stroke, though. She had family, but did not get along with them and wasn't welcome with them, as much as she wished she was.
In the two-plus months we were at the rehab facility together, she didn't have even one visitor. She was discharged before I was, and wasn't sure where she was going to go until the day before they took her away. She had been accepted as patient at a SNF for a while. I don't know what happened to her after that, but I still think of her from time to time and remind myself just how lucky I really am.
I still remember the day she left, she was happy because they had given her a brand-new walker.

-Doug in Oakland

Martha said...

This was beautiful. And it certainly stirs a lot of emotions. My dad died 10 years ago and I miss him every day. The heavy grief lifted a long time ago but there are days when it creeps up on me. You never stop missing them. Now my brother and I make sure our mom is taken care of. She's still very healthy and strong but she has days now and then when she feels weaker and more vulnerable. The time will inevitably come when we will be the caretakers.

jenny_o said...

I know you have been through this, too, all too recently. I think, from reading your posts, that you felt much as I do - it is good to have a chance to give back, as heartbreaking as the reason for it is.

jenny_o said...

Losing a parent is never easy, is it? No matter what age when the loss comes.

And yes! Please do leave a poem here! Every Monday you are welcome and encouraged to share a poem of any kind :)

jenny_o said...

That is very sad, and a good reminder that many parents do not have the support of their children. It is especially sad when the parents raised their children with love and kindness and none of it is returned to them when they need it.

jenny_o said...

It's good to know that your mother will have both her adult children by her side. And although it can be a hard job at times, it has huge rewards too. I am not the same person I was before my dad had his stroke. It changed me in many ways. Wishing your mom many more years of good health.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jenny, I wasn't too sure. Didn't want to do the wrong thing.

Anyway, I wrote this about 18 months ago. The trouble with my poems is that they are rather long although this isn't too bad at six verses.


If you feel isolated and alone
And need a friend or two.
Go onto blogs on the internet,
There'll be someone just like you.

You won't feel you're on your own
Each and every moment.
You'll feel you're joining in,
Especially if you comment.

You'll find out their lifestyles,
Interests and hobbies too.
And, more importantly,
You'll get their point of view.

You'll understand their heartaches,
When they've lost someone dear.
Sending sympathy and best wishes,
Wiping away a tear.

I'm glad I found Blogland,
Someone to visit each night.
To read what they've been doing today
And know that everything's alright.

So, if like me you're unable
To make new friends face to face,
Go on the blogs and you will find,
New friends already in place.

Hope you like it.

Joan (Wales)

Diane Henders said...

What beautiful thoughts! Both my parents are long gone: my mom nearly 35 years ago and my dad nearly 15, but the memory of those final days (or in my dad's case, years) remains. The emotional rollercoaster of illness, recovery, illness, partial recovery, life-threatening health crisis, partial recovery; the nerve-shattering ups and downs in a slow overall decline... sigh. My heart goes out to you as you and your mom navigate the progression. It's a terribly difficult time, but precious nonetheless.

I wish there were easy words to give comfort, and an easy way to make the happy memories more powerful than the sad ones. I hope your mom's health holds, and that you find joy with her whenever you can. Hang in there - you are not alone.

jenny_o said...

This rings very true for me, Joan - and, I suspect, for many of us who visit blogland. It's a good way to find friends world-wide.
Thank you for contributing! And don't worry about length - anything goes.

jenny_o said...

You've described it so well, Diane - and thank you for your kind words.

Blogoratti said...

Sorry to hear about your Dad passing. I know how devastating a stroke can be indeed. There is a kind of symmetry in life, I agree. We just have to keep on living and being kind to one another. I wish you and yours happiness for today and always. Warm greetings.

jenny_o said...

Thank you, Blogoratti. I wish you the same. And thank you for visiting.

Margo said...

Thank you for sharing your wisdom and perspective. Made me stop and think more deeply about when/if this time will come for me.

I'm sorry that some people judged your grief. I wish people could be allowed to grieve in the ways they need to regardless of what others think.

jenny_o said...

I hope it will help if you do have to deal with a similar situation, Margo. And yes - let us all grieve in our own ways. You are so right. Thank you for your kind comments, as always.