honoring our elderly with a pair of poems (+ a special birthday!)

“We’re all just walking each other home.” ~ Ram Dass

“Holding Hands” by Suzanne Summers LaPierre


by Linda Crosfield

Every afternoon at two-fifteen they come,
a procession of chairs and walkers,
or unaided in a slow and ponderous shuffle,
backs hunched against the unkindness of time,
to assemble in the great room for tea.

They enjoy this ritual —
the sturdy cups of Orange Pekoe,
cookies and squares that break up a day,
words exchanged, sometimes even heard,
by folk whose paths might not have crossed before.

It’s a slow dance, led by invisible partners.
It’s the last dance, and they’re saving it
for every afternoon at two-fifteen.

~ Posted by permission of the author, copyright © 2011, 2020 Linda Crosfield. All rights reserved.



“God Bless the Caregivers” by Pami Ciliax-Guthrie


Nursing homes have been in the news a lot lately. After all, it was a nursing home — the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington — that first warranted our serious concern about COVID-19’s community spread in the U.S. back in late February.

We learned that the elderly were the most vulnerable, and that many residents as well as caregivers had been lost or were fighting for their lives across the country.

When I stumbled upon this lovely poem by Canadian poet Linda Crosfield recently, I couldn’t help but view it through the lens of the pandemic. The cherished ritual of afternoon tea took on an added poignancy as I thought of those who no longer have the joy of a “last dance” to look forward to.

As it turns out, though, there was a bright spot, a glimmer of hope.

When I contacted Linda to ask for permission to share her poem, she provided a little backstory about it:

I wrote “Tea at Jubilee Manor” when my aunt was living there. It’s a nursing home in Nelson, BC. She died at 102 in 2012. Now my mother is in the same place and she’s turning 100 on June 3rd. Sadly, it won’t be quite the celebration we’d always planned. Can’t see her in person. No hugs. No flowers. Gifts frowned on. But we can send in one of those little airline-sized bottles of gin and some tonic and we will toast her over the fence on the day. 

Now the poem is even more meaningful. Though I was sorry to hear Linda and her family won’t be able to celebrate this landmark birthday in person, I was so relieved that her mom is okay and would indeed be observing a rare milestone next week.

Would you like to meet Daisy? Here she is:


Linda’s mother Daisy, the birthday girl!


Have you ever seen such a beautiful face, such a wonderful smile? Oh, the people she’s met, the things and places she’s seen, the love she’s shared in 100 years! And she’s given us a poet!

Oh, look — it’s 2:15! In honor of Daisy’s birthday on Wednesday, we’ve set up a little afternoon tea. Please help yourself to some marble cake, dark chocolate pretzels, lemon, oat, and chocolate chip cookies, and of course, a warm cup of Orange Pekoe.




If not for Linda’s poem, our paths might never have crossed. Just as her heartening words suggest, we must follow the lead of our wise elders by rejoicing in simple pleasures and cherishing each moment as it comes, with gratitude that it’s been given.


Mr Cornelius wants you to try a Tunnock’s Tea Cake, a special treat from Scotland.


There’s much to be said, especially in tough, unpredictable times, about treating each slow dance as your last.



While you nibble and sip, enjoy this mini gallery of seniors and Samantha Reynolds’s poem, as a way of honoring those we’ve lost, those we’ve found, and those we’ve yet to meet. Not to be forgotten, devalued, discounted or sacrificed, but revered, respected and treasured.





“Tea and Memories on the Back Step” by Margaret Kyle


“Parisian Bookseller” by Timothy Norman


Polina Luchanova


“Grandmother and Granddaughter” by James Coates


“Old Woman” by James Coates


Marius Van Dokkum


“House Prince” by Gedda Runyon Starlin


“Chicken Supper” by Carl Purcell


“Time to Think” by Diane Fujimoto


“Old Man and Child” by Hugo Simberg


“Mrs Mounter at the Breakfast Table,” by Harold Gilman (1916-17)


“Failing Memories” by Charles Spencelayh


“Devotion” by Kim Johnson


“The Old Tea Caddy” by Charles Spencelayh


Anna Janz


“Great Grandparents” by Barbara Newton


“Taking Tea” by Sherri Crabtree


by Samantha Reynolds

I am not old, she said
I am rare

I am the standing ovation
at the end of the play

I am the retrospective
of my life
as art

I am the hours
connected like dots
into good sense

I am the fullness
of existing

you think I am waiting to die
but I am waiting to be found

I am a treasure
I am a map
these wrinkles are imprints
of my journey

ask me





We send our best wishes for your good health, safety, and strength — plus at least 100 virtual bear hugs from Mr Cornelius and the Alphabet Soup furry kitchen helpers 😊

And thank you, Linda, for sharing your poem and mom with us this week!!





Linda Crosfield lives in Ootischenia, at the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers in South East British Columbia where she writes poetry and produces handmade books and chapbooks through her micro-press, Nose in Book Publishing.

She studied creative writing at the Kootenay School of Arts in Nelson, BC. Her writing has been published in Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S.A. Her work appears in several literary magazines and anthologies. She has seven chapbooks: Ways to Get to Here; Generation Dance; Etiquette; What’s Best for Us; Rodeo Nights; Lost in Pátzcuaro and A Walk in the Mangrove.

Learn more about Linda at her Official Website and blog, Purple Mountain Poetry.



Samantha Reynolds is many things: entrepreneur, mother, wife, collector of great friends, and, yes, a poet. She has been writing a poem every day since 2011 as a way to trick herself into being present to the little moments that would otherwise surely be missed.

Samantha goes by the pen name “bentlily” to remind her of the purpose of her poetry. At a dull corporate event years ago, she noticed a lily that was bent over in a centerpiece of flowers. The awareness of that little detail perked her right up—the world around her came back into focus. What had been a tedious experience was suddenly a profoundly energizing moment. The name “bentlily” is a daily reminder to find joy by noticing the ordinary details of her life.

Samantha Reynolds and her bentlily poetry project have been featured on national and international TV, print, podcasts, online, and radio profiles. Visit bentlily for more.




Thanks to all who commented on last week’s post featuring ILLUSIONS: Poetry & Art for the Young at Heart by Charles Ghigna and Chip Chigna.

We’re happy to announce that the lucky person whose name was randomly drawn is:

*drum roll*






*trumpet fanfare*






👏 👏 👏  👏 👏

We know you’ll enjoy the book :).

Thanks again, everyone!

🎈 🎈🎈 🎈 🎈🎈




The beautiful and talented Mary Lee Hahn is hosting the Roundup at A Year of Reading. Take her a cupcake and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week. As always, stay safe, stay home and be well. And eat PIE.









Copyright © 2020 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

43 thoughts on “honoring our elderly with a pair of poems (+ a special birthday!)

  1. Oh Jama, what a fun and poignant visit. I enjoyed the cookies…and let those silly bears have all the liquor. When will they learn? The poems are beautiful. I do love the idea of treasure to be found and dancing with slow joy. Linda’s poem reminded me of another Linda…Linda Pastan in its approach to the beauty of what’s common. Thank you for such a joyful visit.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, you can’t take your eyes off the bears for a minute! After drinking a lot of tea you would think they wouldn’t be so thirsty. I do enjoy Linda Pastan’s poetry too. You’ve reminded me to pull her book from my shelf to reread.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love. Love. Love.

    A baby bear bowl full of porridge in the morning – with powdered sugar sprinkled on top.

    The sunrise is, just now, more rosy.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have tears in my eyes as I read your post, Jama! Happy birthday to Daisy! My mom (mother of 10!) is 92 and I hope she makes it to her 100th (and beyond!). She actually still lives at home alone though two of my sisters live very close and one is a nurse who checks on her daily.
    Both poets words resonate so much about this almost invisible group of people who deserve so much more. The line in Samantha Reynold’s poem “I am the standing ovation
    at the end of the play” summarizes what I think of my mom.
    Oh and my tears morphed into tears of laughter with the final images of Mr Cornelius and his furry friends hitting the bottles. Thanks for so much goodness. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re one of 10 children? Wow. Your mom deserves a huge gold medal! Amazing that she’s still living at home at age 92. I also really hope she makes it to 100 — we were blessed to see my dad celebrate his 100th — and he even managed to live 4 years beyond that milestone.

      P.S. Mr Cornelius claims those bottles contained tea, not booze (like they do in the movies). Do you believe him? 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Like Bridget, tears are running down my cheeks, remembering Mom and her cohorts, first in assisted living, and then at the nursing home. Both poems…the gallery…our steady march toward that glorious time of “standing ovation.” Love.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “Mom and her cohorts” — it’s good to hear of those cherished friendships forged in assisted living places/care homes, etc. Makes a world of difference for keeping spirits up.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. After the poignant poem and story/celebration of Daisy, I can’t help but remember my dear grandmothers and great aunts who made my life special in ways it would take a book to write, Jama. It is the dearest post and I love that you offer us a last laugh always! Those bears! Happy Birthday to Daisy!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hope you write more about your grandmothers and great aunts — whether in poems or book format — great way to preserve their legacy for your grandchildren.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Jama, what a roller coaster of emotions you created in this post. I was tearing up at the last lines of Linda’s poem, smiling at the crinkled lines of love in Daisy’s face, saddened again by the paintings of elders walking away, then laughing at the couple trying to figure out their computer! So much loveliness in this post! My favorite painting is “Devotion.” I love that Samantha’s poem honors wisdom, and the tipsy bears crack me up. It’s a beautiful birthday party for Daisy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for climbing aboard today’s roller coaster, Joyce. It was fueled not only by two poems I love, but also hearing about those (some elected officials), who feel older people should be sacrificed for the economy. Makes my blood boil. EVERY life, regardless of age, is PRICELESS. Off my soapbox now . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a surprise to get to the end of your amazing post and discover I won the Ghinga book! I was shocked! Thank you. I was also astounded by the collection of lovely painting on you post and the poetry and bios. Wonderful! The poems capture the dignity in old age.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautiful poems and paintings, Jama! I’ll have one of everything you can fit on my plate. Thanks so much to the poets for giving permission to share their work. Happy Birthday, Daisy!!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. (That last image of the bears made me whoop out loud and startle the birds.)
    I love everything about this post. The line, backs hunched against the unkindness of time, is just… *chef’s kiss* lovely. “Ask me anything” – the insouciance of that, and the verity behind it is just beautiful. My sister works organizing ombudsmen who go into care homes and make sure all is well – it’s a tough job just now. I must point her to this post so she can remember to celebrate those she works for.

    Have you seen these lovely old gents? Here’s to the privilege of growing old, and here’s to Daisy, who is doing it with such grace.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s my favorite line from Linda’s poem, and Samantha’s final line is so life affirming. Yes, life in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are just so much harder, scarier, and riskier for all concerned.

      Thanks for that link — love those doorways to the imagination!! Those guys are adorable too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed the poems and art, Karen. When I went searching for paintings featuring senior citizens, I was struck by how many of them pictured people walking away. Lots of backs. I guess there’s lots of symbolism there . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  10. The paintings and the poems, every one of them, touched my heart. My mother was in a nursing home due to dementia during the last 6 yrs. of her life. The poems brought back memories of the time I spend visiting her. Thank you for introducing me to two wonderful poets. I’ll definitely look for more of their poems.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dementia is so hard on families. I imagine your memories are a mixed bag of good days and bad days when you visited your mom.


  11. The poems and paintings were beautiful. I spent a month and a half in a nursing/rehab/respite with wheelchair and walker parades to gatherings. When I was a child, my home was a nursing home run by my parents. I have so many old and new memories this post evoked. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re the first person I’ve met who lived in a nursing home when she was a child — you must have some pretty interesting perspectives about caregiving. Glad your rehab is behind you and that you’re doing better.


  12. Oh Jama, you’ve done it again. Such a moving post… opening with that beautiful poem, introducing us to Daisy of the sunshiny smile, paying tribute to the elderly during these very troubled times with Samantha Reynolds poem (one of my faves) and all of those endearing portraits (which nearly had me in tears), and then throwing in a few tipsy bears at the end to make me laugh out loud. No one does it like you, Jama.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tipsy? Who are you calling tipsy? Mr Cornelius begs to differ. Those bottles contained tea. Thanks for the nice comment!


  13. I can imagine my folks and grandparents in these scenes. A lovely post, Jama – thanks for sharing! My folks are in a nursing home, quarantined in their rooms, and have still somehow managed to contract covis-19 – although they are asymptomatic, which is good, they have no way of chatting with the other residents or enjoying any visits, so I hope things are able to get back to normal by the end of the year,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry to hear that they tested positive for the virus, but what a blessing that they are asymptomatic. Still, it’s especially tough to be isolated and not be able to socialize with other residents or visitors. Do the majority of residents there have the virus?


  14. Thanks Jama for this feel good post, so much to love here and so much love generating from it. How special to honor Daisy with this delectable spread and sensitive poems. I can see your slightly tipsy bears were a smashing good time … Beautiful art too, I really liked Diane Fujimoto’s painting, such rich colors. And Samantha Reynolds opening lines
    “I am not old, she said
    I am rare”

    And… your “Summer of “69” current reading has caught my eye, might have to look for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The bears love to celebrate! Just started Summer of 69 — unusual writing style (my first Todd Strasser book). So far I like the pop culture references. I’m also starting Elton John’s autobiography as well as Carly Simon’s new book. I saw on your blog that you recently read Michelle Obama’s Becoming. After being on a library wait list for two years, I finally got to read it. Loved it, of course.

      Glad you enjoyed the post and seeing the paintings.


Comments are closed.