A prose poem reflecting on the accelerating pace of losses in the years beyond 50, is shared on the 20th anniversary of April’s National Poetry Month.
Someone Left the Window Open
Someone left the window open and they are slipping through,
One by one, and two by twos –
Loving grandparents – drum majors of a parade –
Uncle Don who drove everywhere looking for little pink pigs like ones in my storybook;
Betty Davis, dear childhood friend, named for a movie star, who survived polio to be felled by its re-awakening in later years;
Uncle Frank, who told scary ghost stories, loved Florida and lived life his way;
Uncle William, who lived a formal life as Presbyterian minister till he retired and put away his suits for blue jeans and bluegrass;
Aunt Ermal, who was dietitian at Cumberland College, loved playing Sorry, and made memories with her fruitcakes;
Aunt Verna, who cared for her town as county public health physician;
Aunt Maggie, who liked brandy alexander’s, managed her own business and parachuted from a plane in her 80’s;
Aunt Shirley, who enjoyed taking care of her home and sang country songs while she washed dishes;
Aunt Fanella, twin sister of my father, who kept kinfolk connected and her faith strong;
Dottie, my 6 foot tall college roommate, who had a big heart, a hearty laugh and was a wonderful nurse;
Sweet Alice, my Indiana University officemate, loyal to her friends, who found love in later life;
Mother-in-law Nora, loving mother and grandmother, who taught first grade for 52 years;
Brother-in-law Don, who went at life in a run, and took good care of my sister;
Dad, a talented and happy man who lived life well, but left under the veil of dementia; and
Mother, who loved Christmas, her family, and her home in Madison, and lived to 91.
Someone left the window open, and we keep slipping through.
Sue Marquis Bishop
THERE ARE MANY BENEFITS to living fully in the years beyond 50. One of the hard knocks we experience with increasing age, however, is the accelerating pace of loss of significant others in our social networks.
I CONTINUE TO FEEL the presence and influence of loved ones who are no longer here, in so many ways – in funny family stories re-told, sage advice remembered, family talents and traditions passed on. My life has been enriched by knowing them. I feel gratitude and joy, that they were part of my life.
10 thoughts on “Reflections on Loss of Loved Ones”
So many of my friends and family are just a memory. While a memory has a glow of warmth it is nothing compare to flesh and blood. At this point in my life I am almost to the top of the who is the oldest hill. I have family and good friends in my life but I do miss so many. Your poem was well done and hit home.
We certainly did not aspire to be at the front of this line, did we?
The pace of loss can be greatly accelerated when dementia, Parkinson’s or other illnesses steal away the memories and connections we have with loved ones long before they pass away. I’m experiencing this loss now as my father’s mind slips away while his body lingers on. But we’ve found new ground to share – jigsaw puzzles, coloring, activities that will stimulate his mind without confusing him. Living after 50 means facing the vagaries of aging in a million different unforeseen ways. Our job is to make those transitions as full of grace as possible.
So true Laurie. I also compiled a album of pictures and we shared memories. Or I talked about them. But his favorite was music.
AgAin your poem could be mine and it resonates with me. Good when you can look back and enjoy the memories and the impact those gone have had and continue to have on your life.
Yes it is, Irene!
I, too, am experiencing the “accelerating pace of losses.” Your poem could be my poem, had I thought to write such a lovely tribute to those I miss.
We have entered a dubious sisterhood, not really anticipated in our youth. The only way I see to navigate this time of life as the pace of loss grows , is to celebrate the richness of what has been and still is. To focus on the loss is unthinkable. Guess that’s a glass half- full kind of thing. Good to hear from you. Sue
Sue, I have enjoyed your writings, especially when I can personally relate to them. You certainly have many talents. Peggy
Thank you Peggy. 😍