One Way Ticket

We were waiting for the bus.
You should be wearing a hat,
she said,
You’ll catch your death.

I’d spotted her strolling down the
street window shopping
talking to a stranger,
timeworn gaberdine navigating
her frailty, brown fuzzy beret,
not so much Basque as
church Bring and Buy,
clutching a bag that matched nothing,
tight like a security cloth,
contents stoically protecting her past;
Stratton compact, sweet pressed nostalgia,
bright red lipstick, barely worn,
as garish as she never was,
and Yardley 4711 eau de cologne
with its little rubber stopper,
to be dabbed sparingly,  of course,
middle finger only.
Oh, and a piece of coal should she come
across someone about to take an exam.
My daughter was in the legal profession,
she told the stranger.
I was a secretary mum.
Same thing,
she said.

She told me she still had a bus ticket
somewhere from the days of
Samuel Ledgard;
now they were real buses.
Anyway, where are we going?
she asked, quizzical. I smiled.

Home, I said.

This poem is a reflection of the beginning of my mum’s long,
slow and very sad journey through dementia

 

 

 

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28 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ina
    Oct 28, 2012 @ 11:09:32

    Hi Christine,

    what a good, lovewritten poem about your mother, I was really moved as it reminded me of my own mother who had that disease, and you wrote it so well, this is one of your best!
    4711, that reminded me of my grandmothers, who also, both of them, had dementia.
    The saddest way to grow old perhaps, but at least your mother had a loving daughter…

    Love and a big {{{ hug }}} xxx

    Reply

  2. leamuse
    Oct 28, 2012 @ 11:56:36

    Poignant and sadly beautiful. Thank you for sharing this side of yourself.

    Reply

  3. sarahlangdon
    Oct 28, 2012 @ 13:41:04

    Beautiful poem. It captures the early days of dementia so well.

    Reply

  4. bardessdmdenton
    Oct 28, 2012 @ 18:25:21

    This is so excellent, so affecting, Christine, a true example of showing not telling … which is how real love expresses itself. One of the lines that stands out for me:

    ‘clutching a bag that matched nothing,
    tight like a security cloth,
    contents stoically protecting her past;’

    Strangely, although it is so sad, it speaks of innocence, making the world small again, like when we are children, and I sometimes wonder if that dementia is some kind of protection for overly sensitive spirits – protection from the world in all its large ‘truths’ and ‘realities’ that can be so overwhelming.

    But of course this is so emotionally personal, and that is what makes it so important in your writing. I think it speaks to similar sensibilities that the repost I just did from Countingducks does – reflecting on Dignity – Grief – Values. It deeply moves one to remember that it is really the small things that matter, that fill our memories, that ache in and comfort our hearts.

    Such beautiful writing, my dear friend. An inspiration to loving and cherishing those nearest and dearest to us no matter what. Diane XO

    Reply

    • Journey intopoetry
      Oct 30, 2012 @ 14:06:19

      Diane,

      Thank you so much for this lovely, thoughtful comment.

      What you say about the possibility of dementia being a kind of protection for overly sensitive spirits rings so true in my mum’s case, as that describes her perfectly.
      She was definitely overly sensitive and to a degree has passed that trait onto me, though I find myself working towards a healthier balance as I believe I have been far too sensitive in the past leading to some things in life which have hurt me more than they would have, had I been equipped with more “tools” to deal with them if that makes sense. Protection from the world, I feel, can have both advantages and disadvantages like most things in life I guess.

      And for most of the time mum did seem happy In her bubble. Everything, to her, seemed to have a bigger funnier side than a serious one – not a bad way to be I think! 🙂 I believe it was much more sad for all of us in the family. We grieved for the person she used to be, very loving, kind and extremely artistic, or she would have been if she had given herself half a chance, she was so self deprecating. She passed that onto me too!!!

      Lots of love

      Christine xxxxxx

      Reply

  5. restlessj
    Oct 28, 2012 @ 19:54:54

    This is beautifully written Christine. So understated but quite sufficiently to the point that we know what you’re talking about. Lovely poem. Bravo!

    Reply

  6. sophie walker
    Oct 28, 2012 @ 21:35:17

    Oh Christine this is such a beautiful poem of the innocence of the early stages of dementia as you explained, however I wouldn’t have known this to be honest until I read that….I felt it was of a ‘lost soul searching for clarity’….and then I spotted your explanation it all came together. I worked with mid stage dementia clients for their own and their families emotional and social welfare and had the honour of being part of their lost souls searching for clarity’ as I viewed it in those early stages….as you say a long slow and very sad journey for your mum and no doubt yourself too! Very poignant and touching….beautifully expressed….well done it can’t have been easy for you too…..xxxx

    Reply

  7. Betty Hayes Albright
    Oct 28, 2012 @ 23:30:18

    Christine, this is a great poem, written so sensitively and tenderly. It reminds me of my mom also as she loses a little of herself each day. I still say your poetry just gets better and better – so well crafted with all its visual imagery.

    Hope you have a good week ahead. You’re an inspiration to me (and all of us, methinks!)

    Reply

  8. hollyannegetspoetic
    Oct 28, 2012 @ 23:44:45

    This is a wonderful poem Christine – so beautifully drawn with all the little details. Very poignant, especially hearing that it was written about your Mum.

    (I also always rather like poems which mention buses – but that’s my own peculiarity! ;))

    Reply

    • Journey intopoetry
      Oct 30, 2012 @ 14:19:19

      Thank you Hollyanne. This is a love,y comme t and really appreciated.

      I loved your recent poem where you were on the bus! I cant remember it totally but I remember liking particularly the bit about the breath on the window 🙂

      Christine

      Christine

      Reply

  9. Fergiemoto
    Oct 29, 2012 @ 02:19:26

    So tender and beautifully written, Christine, with detail and wonderful imagery! So sorry about your Mom.

    Reply

    • Journey intopoetry
      Oct 30, 2012 @ 14:22:53

      Thank you so much for your comment.

      Mum seemed happy most of the time on this journey I think. I have a feeling we felt the pain more than she did. I may be wrong though.

      Christine

      Christine

      Reply

  10. Harry Nicholson
    Oct 31, 2012 @ 19:06:25

    A beautiful, soaring white dove of a poem, shining with empathy. It is one of your finest, Christine. One for a serious competition.

    Reply

  11. Journeyingopoetry
    Oct 31, 2012 @ 19:19:21

    Harry, thank you so much for this heartfelt comment. It has given me so much encouragement, and is so appreciated.

    Christine

    Reply

  12. Francina
    Nov 10, 2012 @ 15:03:08

    Beautiful and poignant poem, Christine. Very fine write as well on a difficult subject what is so close to one’s heart. Beautiful in it’s sadness.
    Lots of love and hugs from across the creek.
    Francina xxx

    Reply

  13. suzywordmuser
    Nov 12, 2012 @ 13:52:35

    This is an excellent poem! Some of the descriptions remind me of my grandmother, she was so much like this too. I like your style a lot, and I’m looking forward to reading more of your work!
    Suzy 😀

    Reply

  14. Worldly Winds
    Dec 01, 2012 @ 12:54:29

    Beautiful and so visual – very touching 🙂

    Reply

  15. fryupress
    Jan 03, 2013 @ 14:42:26

    Just found your site Christine. Found this piece enchanting. Loved other pieces too but haven’t had time to read them all but will return again. Glad to have found another Yorkshire writer!

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Jan 03, 2013 @ 18:25:53

      Hi Ann!

      Thank you so much for visiting and for this lovely comment.

      I am very, very new to writing. And it is lovely to come across someone from Yorkshire! I am now on my way over to visit your site and looking forward to it. 🙂

      Christine

      Reply

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