Tuesday, March 8, 2011


My sister gave respite care to our 95-year old mother over the New Year's holidays. I emailed her a poem written by Anne Porter and published in Living Things by Zoland Books. Amazon. This is a book worth buying even if you don’t care for poetry.

 A Short Testament

Whatever harm I may have done
In all my life in all your wide creation
If I cannot repair it
I beg you to repair it,

And then there are all the wounded
The poor the deaf the lonely and the old
Whom I have roughly dismissed
As if I were not one of them.
Where I have wronged them by it
And cannot make amends
I ask you
To comfort them to overflowing…

She responded:

“Spending this time with Mom, I am in awe of what you do daily and as your vocation.  It's good to be with her, but it takes lots of patience.  People say sometimes that it takes patience working with children, but that's not really true.  It takes energy mainly, because they are constantly moving and constantly changing, quick, sure-footed, willing.  Old age is very different, slow and repetitious, confused, but liking everything to be exactly right, and exactly the same.  It's good for my character, being a caretaker for awhile.

“At the same time, I am also aware of the tremendous loss of control that Mom has experienced.  The first day I was here, she tested me a bit, made lots of demands, and asked me to satisfy many whims.  She then complained about my performance!  Finally I said to her, "It must be hard not to be able to just get what it is you want!"  Which was the moment that I realized how impossibly hard it would be for me not to just be able to get up and get whatever I wanted!"

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