She’s Somebody’s Grandma

Every man desires to live long, but no man would be old. ~Jonathan Swift

You made the decision to tuck her away in a “facility”
Where she’s with people in her own age group.
Caregiving isn’t your calling, you insist,
So this was the best choice.
Best for whom?

She’s happy, you say.
Look how well they feed her.
She’s got access to doctors
And new friends.
There’s a chapel for services,
Someone to cut and style hair,
And she doesn’t have to clean house.
They offer planned activities
Like arts and crafts
And television.
Just like being at home.

But it seems to me that growing old
Might be hard enough
Without having to be isolated too.

It’s not my fault, you say,
That she’s lived so long.
She’s had a good life,
A long life.
At least she can afford
A nice place for her golden years.

You can’t know what it’s like though.
You don’t ever visit
Or call
Or write.
So you don’t have to smell the old.
Don’t have to see the frailty.
Don’t have to hear the loneliness.
Don’t have to worry over things
Like thefts, beatings, or neglect.

Sure, she’s tucked away in a “facility,”
Sharing space with “her own kind.”

When all she wanted was to stay home.
Her own home, mind you.
You could’ve hired a housekeeper
Or a nurse or an aide.
Somebody to stay with her and
Make sure she didn’t fall
Or forget to take her pills
Or eat or bathe.
Somebody to play cards with her.
Somebody to take her for a drive
And maybe an ice cream cone.
Somebody she could laugh with
And share memories of days gone by.

I guess it’s true, you know–
Out of sight, out of mind.

28 thoughts on “She’s Somebody’s Grandma

  1. Debbie, your previous reader’s comment took the words right out of my mouth. Wow! VERY powerful piece. You spoke a lot of truth. And I’m glad you did because this happens so often.

    “Every man desires to live long, but no man would be old. ~Jonathan Swift”

    Loved that quote! We all desire to live long, but we forget about what often comes with old age.

    Thanks for sharing this, my friend. Have a great week and 4th of July!


    • Sadly, it’s the norm in some cases. Yet even if it’s necessary, nobody should simply be tucked away and forgotten. Even if, as they say, aging isn’t for sissies, ha!

      Thanks for dropping by to read,my friend. Have a beautiful week and a festive holiday!

  2. What a poignant and sobering piece. Debbie. Placing a parent in a nursing home is one of the most difficult tasks a family member has to face. Sometimes there’s no choice. This is a powerful reminder about the importance of including our parents in our lives no matter where they reside. Loneliness is a killer for the elderly. Thanks for a provocative post.

    • Well said, Kathy. And having to cope with a world of change isn’t easy for anybody, especially somebody who’s used to being surrounded by things (and people) who are comfortably familiar. Thanks for stopping by to read — and leaving your thoughts, too!

  3. I can hear your frustration. It is always preferred to stay in your own home if you can afford it and if you want to. Bottom line, people need to make their own decisions as long as they can.

  4. Bruce’s aunt is now 99, will be 100 in Sept. She’s still in her apartment, we have hired people to help her. She’s 30 minutes away from us, but we don’t get there as often as we should.

    • Thanks for letting me know, Terri. I think poetry can express our worries and fears in ways that other forms of communication can’t. As our parents age, we’ll all be called to do the right thing by them. Sadly, sometimes that’s hard to know, too!

  5. This is so true and so powerful, Debbie. I had a friend who “warehoused” her mother, and it was the saddest thing in the world. I swore that no matter what, Mom wasn’t going into one of those places unless it was medically necessary. Thank goodness it never was. By the time she no longer was able to live at home, she had only five weeks to live, so there wasn’t the long, drawn-out torture of dealing with “those places.” When she died, she was 93 and was more than ready to move on, as she liked to say, so it worked out well for everyone.

    I have a post simmering about this same issue, related to my experience with my eyes, but I think it will be some time before I’m ready to write it. Thanks for giving me encouragement! And have a great, celebratory weekend!

    • Ah, Linda, I’m so glad your post is simmering right now! Any time I can encourage someone, I’m happy to do so. This is a topic we must address. A lot of older people say they want to go to a home, but I wonder how much of this is because they see the fear in their kids’ eyes — and they don’t want to be a burden.

      We know facilities can be acceptable solutions — in certain cases. We also know most seniors — given the choice — would prefer to remain at home. Unless we begin teaching the younger generation how to be compassionate, as well as compensating such professions, I see nothing but sadness ahead. (Now I’ll get off my soapbox, ha!)

      Happy Fourth to you!

    • I shudder to think of it happening to anybody I know. Left alone, institutionalized, barely taken care of — what a miserable life that must be!

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