One Room

One Room

It was home;
enough living space
to raise a family
and have fun,
small garden with borders,
a dog and a cat.
It was everything and more;
it was home.

Time passed;
hints to down-size
met with granite resistance
as more doors closed,
the past falling asleep and
memories filling spaces
where life used to sing.

Inevitable clinic blue
walls beckoned,
resistance all spent.
One room, carbon copy
of many more;
high seat chair on
industrial carpet,
plywood bookcase,
a bed and a bad smell.
The world had shrunk
and there wasΒ  nowhere
to call home.


46 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. belfastdavid
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 11:54:42

    This is one terrific poem.

    It brings back memories of my mother – so I will give myself time to absorb those memories before I make a comment.

    Lots of love



  2. belfastdavid
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 11:55:42

    Forgot to tick the ‘notify me of follow up comments box’



  3. Ina
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 12:02:17

    Hi Christine,
    what an impressive poem, you write here so well about how getting older and dependend can be like, losing everything that was dear, having to adapt to a new life away from home as you know it.

    “The world had shrunk and there was nowhere to call home”. To make something graceful out of this new stage in life is not for everyone, as those homes are not always comfortable, and that is sad. ( I do know people who blossom in a home though, when they get the care and attention they needed after strugling years πŸ™‚ )
    Those clinic blue walls and bad smell…
    To have at least some of your own stuff around you, I think that makes some of a difference. And now a days there is the internet to keep in touch with the world perhaps.
    Still it is not something to look forward to and you expressed that here very well and moving.

    Love and big hugs


    • journeyintopoetry
      Mar 30, 2012 @ 14:51:24

      Thank you Ina.

      I agree with you, some people do seem to blossom in care homes, particularly if they have had an unhappy existence, and maybe a lonely one elsewhere.

      My mum had to end her days in a home because she needed 24 hour care and after years of trying we couldn’t give her that. I still get a twinge of guilt now and then about this, but it is irrational as they were far more qualified to meet her needs and when we visited which was every day, sometimes a few timers a day, our time with her was quality time because we weren’t worn out.

      The place she was in was very nice (we visited many that weren’t!) but however nice you can’t escape the smell of stale urine mixed with overcooked vegetables.

      Love and hugs xx


      • Ina
        Mar 30, 2012 @ 15:29:42

        Hi Christine, aw that feeling of ‘Did I do the right thing’… You had to leave her in that home, and I know no one will convince you it was for the better. But she knows it was, surely. Don’t feel bad about it! You wanted what was best for her.

        Losing your mother is so horrible, watching her die very heartbreaking, witnessing her becoming a different person is too.

        (My mother died in 2009, in a nursing home where my grandparents once lived/died too and she was better of there than at home I think, as she had Alzheimers or something similar, they never quite knew what kind of dementia it was. She forgot her life, who I was, where she lived, how to speak. She never complained as a rule, even with a broken hip she would still walk about, so that makes it difficult to judge if she really felt at home, but if I look at it from a little distance, it was the best thing to do (there only is one old people home here) and I am glad the doctors made the decision, I only had to agree. She already was there in day care some days a week. It was a hard moment, one of the sort that makes you hate yourself. The doctor told me not to witness when they told her she would not be going home that day.

        The bad smell was living there too. Now of course she needed to be in that home, but I felt horrible leaving her there, that day. So guilty of betrail! The old old people’s home was demolished last year, the new facilities are really luxuruous. I am not sure that smell hasn’t moved into it again though…)

        {{{{ Christine }}}} I am convinced that you were the best daughter your mother could have wished for, and that that is the reason it still bothers you so.

    • journeyintopoetry
      Mar 31, 2012 @ 12:47:47

      Thank you so much Ina, for this additional comment. Like your mother, mine, too had a form of dementia they couldn’t name, and although most of the time she didn’t really know where she was, she somehow knew she wasn’t at home and that hurt me most.

      As mentioned before, however luxurious these paces are the “bad smell” still seems to pervade the air, it seems unavoidable.

      It is something none of us wants to have to go through, leaving a parent somewhere like this but it really is for the besty sometimes however cruel it seems at the time.

      I now need to forget about this subject or I will begin to foresee my own fate LOL πŸ™‚

      Love and hugs xx


  4. dfb
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 12:40:48

    Yes, you have put this so well, a testimony, no less, on how we treat the old. When someone has worked all their lives, has contributed so much tax etc, they deserve 1. A good pension and 2. Respect from all. You highlight here that very often, neither of these are met. Great stuff, Christine.


    • journeyintopoetry
      Mar 30, 2012 @ 14:53:58

      Thank you David.

      Some of the places we visited for my mum (see comment to Ina) were awful, and although we found a very acceptable place in the end it still broke all our hearts to know that we couldn’t manage to look after her and, of course, it was nothing like home. It makes me shudder.



  5. The Background Story
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 12:51:26

    Beautiful, depressing, and sadly true!


    • journeyintopoetry
      Mar 30, 2012 @ 14:55:55

      Thank you.

      Yes it is very sad; I wish things could have been different for my mum but you can only do your best and that has to be good enough. We still gave her all our love and that was the important thing



  6. hollyannegetspoetic
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 13:40:13

    Such a sad situation. As always Christine, I admire your way to narrate something so emotionally affecting without cloying mawkishness. The notion of “home” is so important to all of us and rightly so. I think this one will strike a chord with many readers, echoing such difficult times. Thank you for sharing. x


  7. sandy
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 16:53:43

    This struck a nerve with me for sure. My mom is now living in assisted living, but determined to make the best of it. She works in the garden, exercises, and makes friends. I am 61 years old, and still saying ‘I want to be just like my Mom’.

    Life can be sad, or not.
    This is a wonderful poem, Christine. Please keep writing.


    • journeyintopoetry
      Mar 31, 2012 @ 12:54:15

      Hi Sandy,

      Thank you for your lovely comment.

      I can understand what you are saying about your mum because my dad actually ended up in assisted living too. But it was a whole different experience for all of us. He more or less organised it for himself because he knew life would be easier for him and he wouldn’t dream of coming to live with any of us, his daughters. He just wouldn’t entertain it. And he joined in, went to computer classes, did lots of crafts, and helped all the other residents who were less capable than he was. The staff used to say he was a great volunteer!

      So it’s not all bad, but we seem to remember the bad bits a lot more clearly I feel.

      Thank you again for this lovely comment and I will keep writing! πŸ™‚




      • sandy
        Mar 31, 2012 @ 15:02:41

        I am so glad to hear that. Maybe, it is the ones that give up that bring us so much despair.

  8. Linda Willows
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 17:06:56

    thank you for sharing such dignity and beauty as it lives amongst the most stressful of circumstance. So vivid as you describe smells, industrial carpeting (do many people Really realize what that is like? and the generic “off color” paint on the walls?) Life experience is a gem to be shared, but most just don’t have your talent with expression. You are a beautiful soul. Love to you, much love, Linda


    • journeyintopoetry
      Mar 31, 2012 @ 12:59:40


      This is a beautiful comment and I thank you so much for it.

      Your words to me are so encouraging because I often think my writing capabilities leave a lot to be desired. I can only write simply, from the heart, using simple language and sometimes that doesn’t seem enough, but I think that’s my lack of confidence in myself. What I do know is that my writing really helps me and if it touches a few others too then I am content.

      Much love to you

      Christine xx


  9. susanjanejones
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 17:15:22

    So sad and moving, showing the stages we go through, and the happiness and memories along the way.


    • journeyintopoetry
      Mar 31, 2012 @ 13:02:20

      Thank you Susan.
      Sometimes it is good to be able to express how we feel about these things and I find that sharing with a caring community like we have here on WP is just a blessing. If any of my words touch someone out there then that is a huge bonus.




  10. granbee
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 18:06:09

    Such a wonderful service you have given us, Christine, to remember those in “assisted living” and nursinghomes today. NONE of my own family members was EVER taken to any of these types of facilities–and I pray I will be either. I just want to keel over in my roses, the way my dear maternal grandfather did. His widow, my dear grandmother, passed away in her favorite morning mail-reading chair, talking on the phone to my mother. So sad, those lonely, institutional rooms!


    • journeyintopoetry
      Mar 31, 2012 @ 13:06:08


      You have a beautiful soul! And thank you for your comment.

      I really do hope your desire to keel over in your roses :):) comes to fruition – but NOT YET!!PLEASE!! You have much more to say and give to us all yet!!! :):)

      I always leave your comments with a gentle πŸ™‚ on my face – thank you.

      Much Love

      Christine xx


  11. Emma
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 21:16:03

    This has such a delicate power to it for me. My family has a great deal of experience with this scenario as Alzheimer’s runs in the family. I’ve watched many of my older relatives take this last step, and it is always heart-breaking. The scene you’ve written here is so true to life, it truly evokes the sights, smells, and feelings that I associate with these memories.


    • journeyintopoetry
      Mar 31, 2012 @ 13:10:12


      Thank you for your moving comment.

      I do hope the memories evoked were not too disturbing for you.

      I can relate to the sentiments in your comment as my mum had a form of dementia, too, and it was very sad to see her slipping away from us all day by day.

      We must treasure the good memories we have and keep them alive.



  12. Caddo Veil
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 22:45:05

    Hi Christine–this one’s sad. My fave line is “the past falling asleep”–that is really excellent. Have a blessed Palm Sunday weekend.


  13. tikarmavodicka
    Mar 31, 2012 @ 01:30:25

    Hi Christine,

    This is one powerful poem!
    It bought to mind for me those relatives I’ve known who had to eventually move into supported care. My grandfather in-law was very good about it, and didn’t resist the change in his life. He knew it was for the best and always enjoyed our visiting.
    I think sadness in these matters is inevitable. In a sense someone you care for has changed sometimes so drammatically that it’s not possible anymore to care for them at home and you know it’s right. These places now are so well equipped and it is a comfort to know that someone is there if needed. But that said it is I suppose the final stage of letting go of someone you love and that too can be difficult and often guilt tinged.
    They are places which bring to my mind my own fears. Though I have many years to go, I do hope I will be healthy and well enough to stay independant for long enough. Being the youngest it’s not likely I’m going to have people who care to make decisions if I can’t or visit me. It’s a point of reality in all the ageing I experiance around me I try not to dwell on.

    Thank you for sharing such a poignant yet beautiful poem.

    with much love and
    (((BIG WARM HUGS)))


    • journeyintopoetry
      Mar 31, 2012 @ 13:18:13

      Thank you Tikarma, for this thoughtful comment.

      As I said above to Sandy, it was a different story for my dad and he did quite flourish during his time at the care home where he lived for a few years. And he really enjoyed his visits to our home a couple of times a week, either to spend time in the garden watching grandchildren and great grandchildren! And also enjoying a looked forward to home cooked Sunday dinner with us.

      But for mum it was different. All I have to remember is that we all did our very best for her and it was done with an enormous amount of love

      Lots of love and
      (((BIG WARM HUGS)))

      Christine xx


  14. Eve Redwater
    Mar 31, 2012 @ 16:03:06

    Oh Christine, your poetry is more wonderful each time! I love it. πŸ˜€


  15. Thomas Davis
    Apr 01, 2012 @ 17:17:31

    Christine, this poem strikes so true to life. For too many of us life shrinks as age takes its multiple tolls. My mother is fighting to stay in her small apartment right now at age 86. She’s succeeding so far, although things get more difficult every year. She gave us our childhood home long ago, and she still has the ability to “go” the minute the word comes out of someone’s mouth, but my grandmother was, toward the end of her life, and my mother in law, were both imprisoned where they did not want to be even though there was no choice when the family could not longer meet increasing physical needs that endangered their lives.
    What makes the poem so memorable is its ability to touch everyone’s lives, as the comments here attest to, but also its conjuring of what life means and what home means within two women’s lives, yours and your mother’s. Universality is difficult to achieve, but you have achieved that here, and that is an accomplishment for any poet.


  16. journeyintopoetry
    Apr 01, 2012 @ 17:42:13


    Thank you very much for this comment

    I feel quite humbled by it.

    You give me great encouragement to carry on writing.

    And yes, when the physical needs can endanger life at home then it is, unfortunately, time for change.

    Thank you again,



  17. Fergiemoto
    Apr 02, 2012 @ 00:33:03

    Impressively written, but sad. The very blue side of aging.


  18. gonecycling
    Apr 02, 2012 @ 08:58:25

    Three of my four grandparents ended their days in residential care, so this poem strikes very deep, Christine. It’s something I’ve never really been able to write about, but you’ve expressed so many of my thoughts and feelings beautifully for me here. Thank you so much for having the courage to tackle this hard, hard subject with such skill, compassion and empathy. N.xx


    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 02, 2012 @ 11:56:58


      This is a really lovely comment, thank you so much. I hope you are aware how much I appreciate your feedback. You are one of the people whose opinions really matter to me as I hold you and your work in high regard.

      Christine xx


  19. Becoming herself
    Apr 02, 2012 @ 09:43:37

    “I can only write simply, from the heart, using simple language and sometimes that doesn’t seem enough”

    Christine – that’s exactly why your poetry is so very good and touches so many people. Never think it’s not enough – it’s exactly the opposite.


    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 02, 2012 @ 12:01:17

      Oh thank you BH.

      This is a really reassuring comment.

      I must try to attain more confidence in myself; I wiil work on it but when I read the sort of thing you write, now that’s what I call real writing.



  20. Betty Hayes Albright
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 17:58:40

    Christine, thank you for sharing this poem. It’s a difficult subject to deal with (much less write about) but you’ve expressed it so well!

    My 94 year old mom is also in assisted living, but she’s lucky it doesn’t have a bad smell like most places do – and the food is pretty good. She also has dementia, and I deal with the guilt every day that I can’t visit more often than twice a week. Plus when I do visit, she won’t remember afterwards. It’s hard, and I understand what you and others here are talking about.

    And then I wonder, what will become of all us “baby boomers” – will there be room for us all? And what will the quality of our care be? A scary future, unless drastic changes are made. (But I digress…!)

    Thank you again for writing this poignant poem.


  21. davidlandgrebe
    Apr 04, 2012 @ 09:40:47

    Hi Christine, wonderful poem, this represents a point in life, that no body really thinks about.
    Being passionate about poetry can offer all the space one needs!


  22. AJ Barlow
    Apr 04, 2012 @ 19:14:23

    Such a great poem, as many before me have expressed. You really captured the emotion in this type of journey. Very nicely done Christine.


    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 04, 2012 @ 20:13:47

      Thank you so much for your comment.

      I think it’s an emotion that hits home with many of us.

      As a PS I keep finding it difficult to leave comments on your new site. I will keep trying. I’m not ignoring you!:)



  23. bardessdmdenton
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 19:40:12

    ‘the past falling asleep and
    memories filling spaces
    where life used to sing..’

    How very lovely…you have the magic touch of making poetry, Christine…its gentle power as affecting as any mightier one…you MUST keep on writing!

    I am fortunate that my mom at 83 is still sound in mind and that we live together so I can care for her pretty well and consistently. But I have to go out to work and often wonder what if the situation changed. I know she would HATE to live in an institutional situation.

    We make the best decisions that we can, especially when we make them out of love.


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