JUNE 20, 2019 BY JAS 🍦
In 1997, long before dementia was a familiar word in our life, more than ten years before we would retire, my first grandchild was born.
I lived in Canada and his family lived in the U.S., a four day drive for me, a prefer-not-to-fly person.
We did visit. We did drive and we did take the plane. I was in love with him and when I left after each visit, I couldn’t stop that wonderful feeling a brand new baby generates in me. So, to release my feelings, I wrote, as I do in emotional times.
I wrote volumes of poems, stories-in-rhyme, about what I dreamed our life might be like if I were near him, if I were part of his life more than I would be able to be, living in another country. I experienced the connection and those emotions through writing about what ‘might have been.’
Having just turned fifty-five, the concept of joining the senior population was not yet dominating my thoughts. Yet, because of friends who had families nearby, I was drawn to the contrast between seniors and young children. I had seen pictures in the paper and had read about senior homes where they held pre-school classes so the two generations could ‘play’ together.
I learned there was value in children becoming familiar with their elder population so there could be a strong connection as they both aged. I have since learned that getting grandchildren involved in caregiving also has the potential to keep families connected, to keep seniors vibrant through their link to the younger ones.
One of my stories-in-rhyme was about my grandson going with his grandmother to see friends in a senior home. I suppose the need to write about the topic was because I, too, was soon to be an aging ‘older person.’
In this story, a child is becoming familiar with the older generation, and thus I share the poem here focused on a caregiving twist.
My wish would be for all caregivers to bring their younger family members into the fold so they, too, can develop their gift of caregiving.
Just have fun with it!
Gramma was staying at our house that week,
And we’d had a good time, ‘though the weather was bleak!
There was snow on the ground with no place to play.
Then Gramma decided we’d go out one day!
Some friends lived in town not too far away,
They were having a party for someone’s birthday!
Gramma wrapped up a present and put on a bow,
with a big card on the top – we were ready to go!
We got in the car – she drove a bit slow –
But she said it was only because of the snow!
We went down the hill and ‘round the big bend
and stopped on the street, near the house at the end!
We walked up a ramp, then I looked for a bell.
But none was there. I guess Gramma knew well
those wanting to enter had to phone through!
So she picked up the phone and pushed number “two!”
Then she pressed a small button and the door slid aside,
and we both went walking right inside!
At the desk by the door was a lady who asked
why we were there, and then let us pass!
It wasn’t quite like any house I had seen,
It wasn’t quite like any place I had been!
So many people lived in one home,
I guess they didn’t like living alone!
Off in the corner I saw a TV
by a chair with big wheels. . .what could that be?
Then down the hall came a lady in blue
being pushed in a chair that had big wheels, too!
I asked my Gramma if I could ride
in a chair with big wheels right there inside.
She told me, ”No!” chairs were there to assist
when no other way of walking exists!
Then I saw in the hall a man in a chair
talking to someone. . .but no one was there!
When I asked my Gramma if she had seen that,
she just smiled and whispered, “Some folks are like that!”
We passed a lady with a long, colourful stick.
She tapped the floor as she walked by with it.
When I asked Gramma what her stick was for,
She said, “Canes hold people steady when they walk on the floor!”
One lady was snoring, asleep in a chair.
She had something strange near her ear, in her hair.
And another man had that same thing in his ear.
Gramma said “hearing aids” help people to hear!
So many Grammas had glasses on, too,
Just like my Gramma and Grampa both do!
She told me “Sometimes we need help just to see
And glasses help many folks; yes, even me!”
I saw down the hall a man shuffling around;
He would move one foot, then he’d put his cane down.
He leaned down toward me and gave a big smile,
And asked if I wanted to talk for awhile!
I would have, but Gramma walked straight down that hall,
still looking for names she knew on the wall.
We stopped at the door with the yellow balloons.
The party was there that afternoon!
A friend of my Gramma’s came over to say
she was happy we came to her party that day!
She walked holding on to a wheeled metal frame.
It held her up, too, but it wasn’t a cane!
I saw in the room Gramma’s friends were all there,
some knitting, some chatting at this festive affair!
I was surprised to see the one by the door
in her chair with big wheels that I’d seen just before!
A tired little lady “had dropped off for a doze!”
with her pair of glasses still propped on her nose.
One friendly lady in the corner told me
she’d tell me a story if I sat on her knee!
Some asked me questions while others just smiled.
(They were so happy spending time with a child!)
Gramma’s friends were so nice – they gave me a treat,
a big slice of cake when they started to eat!
It didn’t matter that they couldn’t see well;
that their hearing was poor, and I needed to yell,
that they had a hard time trying to walk.
I just walked beside them when they wanted to talk!
My Gramma’s friends were so nice to me,
I liked spending time in their company!
That afternoon I made so many new friends,
when we stopped on the street, near the house at the end!
Copyright (C) November 3, 1998, Gramma’s Friends, from Under A Mushroom, Fun and Friendly Stories-in-Rhyme with Griffin and Gramma Jude, written by Jude Shone and illustrated by the Woodland Fairies
Each day do something to make others smile and your heart sing! ~jas
Illustrations at introduction to this post by Avanne Troar
“Gramma’s Friends” © 2019 Judith Allen Shone
Available from Amazon and other booksellers online.