Not A Poem

Memoir Through Verse and Prose

I realize today that not all memoir can be written though verse. I did so after reading two posts this morning that made me think about the importance of love. One post was not even that, it was simply an invitation to write. But it was unique because it was filled with love. I believe love to be the most important place upon earth, yes place. I say place for it is and can be a place to dwell. When love comes though us to another it can change lives. I read a second post today that moved me. This post was filled with wisdom written through metaphor about becoming the best that we can be. It was beautifully written and the comments were marvelous.

I realized that when we are at a point in our lives when we are becoming “the best that we can be,” we are often still young, striving and less fully formed than those who are further along on the path. We may not yet know the power of love, a love called Agape. Once we have become the best that we can be, once we are done, formed, that love will just come out of us. I had an extraordinary experience once that demonstrates this love. Please do not make the mistake of thinking that this story is about Liz. It has almost nothing to do with me – I was a conduit.

When we bought our home thirty years ago, where we lived was more important than the home we selected. Due to this thinking I chose a building that I for many years termed the second ugliest house in St Louis. In fact it was (in my opinion). However, we were living in the neighborhood that we wished to be in. This is a three story building built in 1898, a four square. In the 1960s someone tore it up and made nasty little apartments out of it. When we moved in we had a tenant. She was with us for twenty years. She was the very best tenant anyone could ever of had. She was an African American woman who was my age and single. Like myself she worked in healthcare. She had a very loving and caring nature.

Several years later after she had moved, I knew that she had suffered a stroke and that she was recuperating in a nursing facility. I decided to visit her. I have been in many nursing homes for professional reasons. This home was state owned. Without a doubt I can tell you that it was the most disgusting place that I have ever been. She died there. When I visited, I was greeted by the most outrageous stench of urine and feces. It was grotesquely pervasive.

I sat down we talked for a while. She expressed a need to use the bathroom, for which she needed nursing assistance. I knew that she would wait all afternoon before anyone would bother to answer her bell. She was a larger woman that I. I sensibly could say “goodbye” at this point and inform the staff that she needed attention. But I also knew that she would receive none. She would be made to lie in her own feces and urine until another shift had come to work.

She was a little embarrassed, but I knew that there was nothing like having “to go” and not being able to do so. She was unable to walk and needed a wheel chair. I will never know how we managed, but I got her into the chair, into the bathroom, onto the toilet, up, wiped and back into the wheelchair, then back into bed … all in this wreaking, filthy place. Somehow God just decided to use me that day and I am glad that he/she did. I am not sure that I could do it again. But I will say that allowing love to stream through me was rewarding and good. Again know that this story is not about me.

Posted at Poetry Pantry in Poets United with the hope I don’t get kicked out for no poetry.

16 thoughts on “Not A Poem

  1. smiles…what a person you are…that is def love when you are willing to wipe butts…love is what makes the world go round for sure…i am a believer in it…i was just ruminating this morning in my journal on a relief trip i took to kentucky a couple years back…you are so right in that the story is not about us…that is the perfect attitude of love…humility…compassion…i resonate with your words.

    much love
    b

    • Brian part of what makes you the special person that you are is that you do this too, all of the time. I here it daily in your poetry about others who are not family members, your students and strangers. I am quite a selfish person. I learned early on when quite young and sort of unloved by all that loving others gives me so much more.

  2. I am glad you were there for her that day, that you could help take care of her most basic of needs. There indeed is nothing worse, I don’ think, than needing to ‘go’ and have no one answer your call. I have been in nursing homes, thankfully good ones, but damn it is hard. And, unfortunately, I think we all end up in some kind of place some year. Where we are dependent on others to help us take care of our bodily needs. Where others see what we hoped they never would. Blessings to YOU for helping when there was a need.

    • Mary I have an absolute fear of being put into a nursing home and fully expect to be placed in one. I was a caregiver most of my professional life. That is before opening a boutique. I was a quality care giver too, often motivated by the hope that one day as you say: “Where we are dependent on others to help us take care of our bodily needs” I will actually be cared for.

  3. You have a warm and compassionate soul ~ Thank goodness you were there to help her ~ I hate to think that someday this may happen to me but we try to live our life the best way we can, with much love as we can ~

    Thanks for the lovely share and wishing you happy week ~

  4. An interesting blending of energies between the two of you. Yes, your choice was an act of love and kindness, but I feel more in this sharing. I feel the two of you in the Oneness of all that is; not separate, but together. It [that unconditional love] adds strength to each that the feeling of separateness does not.

    • Hi Tanya. You are truly correct. It was a moment out of time as we know it. I was just a body and we were as one soul. There was a total strength as you mention, impenetrable by anything. It takes nothing but a lack of fear and a willingness to have these sorts of experiences. I am one of the lucky ones as within my career I spent nearly 12 or so years of the 25 working within this same sort of situation. Another story. Thank you for your insights.

  5. It is a blessing to have such an opportunity but at the same time, I can’t help but think that you would have to have the mind to or else, one would have simply asked another to do so. It is far easier to talk of what should be than be the one. I hope that when it comes to me, I would act in a way that I would be able to look back on with the joy as you have in this.

    • Ravenblack I am so happy to see you. My answer is “sort-of.” As I said above in a comment, I had learned long ago of the great personal rewards of “losing fear” and simply loving those in need “who are not family members,” even if the situation was unpleasant.

  6. Liz, what a great story. I have been in those situations too and, in the end (no pun intended), one just does what is needed. The bodies are all just suits our souls inhabit anyways……….I worked in extended care too and remember being so P.O.’ed when I’d hear a quavery little voice calling “please can someone help me?” and hearing the brisk uncaring voice of staff yell back, “Just wait, or go in your diaper! I’m going for my coffee break!” GRRRRRR! The good thing about THIS story is that that person will find herself in that exact same situation one day.

  7. So sad, Liz, to know that someone who worked hard all her life – caring for others -didn’t get the care she needed in the end. I’m sure this connect between the two of you was healing to both of you. Kindness, as Henry James said, is one of the three most important things in the life … the other two, he said, are kindness and kindness.

    Many blessings, Liz. Thanks for this sharing. It’s good to see you blogging again. Big smiles here. Sorry I’ve been remiss in reading; but, I am on the mend now and catching up.

    Long distance hugs,
    Jamie

      • Funny you say that. The spontaneity is what I’m exploring in a post I hope will see light in a wk or two, part of the series on the writing process. In it, I’m asking the million-dollar question WHAT IS ART??? A wonderful, faithful reader was struck by the intention in my writing and asked if I ever read/write “just” for the pleasure for it. Ohh yummy thoughts!

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