“We’re all just walking each other home.” ~ Ram Dass
TEA AT JUBILEE MANOR
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.
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:
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.
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.
I AM NOT OLD
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
I am the hours
connected like dots
into good sense
I am the fullness
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
🌸🌼 HAPPY, HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY, DEAR DAISY! 🌼🌺
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!!
ABOUT THE POETS
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.
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.
📕 BOOK GIVEAWAY WINNER! 📘
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:
🌹JANICE SCULLY 🌷
🎉 WOO HOO! CONGRATULATIONS, JANICE! 🎉
👏 👏 👏 👏 👏
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.