Another year, another birthday

Think my posting this poem is going to become an annual event!

I can remember in my teens longing to be 21. And now I wish that time could go backwards and I could be 21 again!

Another year, another birthday

Something happens

Between 60 and 70

You become a senior

and all of a sudden

you don’t recognise

that person in the mirror

and on the scales.

You shuffle in your slippers

read the papers

and pop pills.

The receptionist

at the doctor’s

knows your name.

Complete strangers

call you my darling

and my dear.

You want to be offered seats

on trains

And flat shoes seem

a better option

than high heels.

You are now

a silver surfer

so you search for

senior bargains online

There must be some perk

to reaching this age.

Hotels offer you

twin beds

and disabled bathrooms.

11 o’clock at night

seems very late to be out

and you find yourself

wanting to nap

in the middle of the day.

Your children ask how you are

but don’t really want to know

and people say you look well

when they mean

you are looking good for your age.

You have become invisible

to the opposite sex

and to anyone

under forty.

People talk about “special” birthdays

and give you soppy smiles.

You wish you were

growing old disgracefully

but just don’t have the energy.

Come upstairs and make love to me

I read somewhere.

I can do one or the other

was the answer

Don’t expect me to do both.

I’ve started listening to the Archers

and the weather forecasts

Doing crosswords

and reading the obituaries

Seeing the names of

people I once knew

Thank goodness Mick Jagger

can still strut his stuff

and Macca too

still performing

whilst others the same age

languish in care homes

uncared for and forgotten.

It’s odd to think

that in ten years or so

I will look back at this time

And think myself young.

 

Age 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

Advertisements

Remembering

 I wrote this next poem in 1995, about six months before my mother died.

 Role Reversal

Today, I held my mother

sobbing in my arms

Stroking her soft,  fine hair

Her chin nuzzled on my chest

And I could smell

the unforgotten fragrance

of her skin

I held her close

as I have held my children

and felt the frailty of her age

How odd and imperceptibly

the tables turn

And those that you have leaned on

lean on you

Those that you had turned to

turn to you

Now she is the child

And I am the mother

MUM AND DAD BEFORE THEY WERE ENGAGED. LATE 1920S? THEY WERE MARRIED IN 1936.SONY DSCmum

In memory of Freda Hetty Finn.  Born London, December 13 1910. Died 6 March 1996.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


Another birthday

My birthday seems to have come round even quicker this year!  I wrote this poem a while ago. I’m sure it will resonate with some of you. And if it doesn’t – it might give you a glimpse of what you have to look forward to!

Another birthday

Something happens

Between 59 and 60.

You become a senior

and all of a sudden

you don’t recognise

that person in the mirror

and on the scales.

You shuffle in your slippers

read the papers

and pop pills.

The receptionist

at the doctor’s

knows your name.

Complete strangers

call you my darling

and my dear.

You want to be offered seats

on trains

And flat shoes seem

a better option

than high heels.

You are now

a silver surfer

so you search for

senior bargains online

There must be some perk

to reaching this age.

Hotels offer you

twin beds

and disabled bathrooms.

11 o’clock at night

seems very late to be out

and you find yourself

wanting to nap

in the middle of the day.

Your children ask how you are

but don’t really want to know

and people say you look well

when they mean

you are looking good for your age.

You have become invisible

to the opposite sex

and to anyone

under forty.

People talk about “special” birthdays

and give you soppy smiles.

You wish you were

growing old disgracefully

but just don’t have the energy.

Come upstairs and make love to me

I read somewhere.

“I can do one or the other”

was the answer

“Don’t expect me to do both”.

I’ve started listening to the Archers

and the weather forecasts

Doing crosswords

and reading the obituaries

Seeing the names of

people I once knew

Thank goodness Mick Jagger

can still strut his stuff

and Macca too

still performing

whilst others the same age

languish in care homes

uncared for and forgotten.

It’s odd to think

that in ten years or so

I will look back at this time

And think myself young.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


The power of poetry

Today is National Poetry Day.

I suppose I should be saying or writing something profound.

I don’t have a new poem to offer you. However, I just heard something interesting on the BBC news tonight that I would like to share with you.

It seems that people who have dementia respond to poetry – sometimes with just a smile or a flicker of recognition. Sometimes even joining in with the words.

This does not surprise me. Those of us who learned poems as kids can often still recite them – even when we can’t remember the title of the book we last read – or even what we had for dinner the night before!

I  remember how at our daughter’s wedding ceremony we were all moved to tears when my son-in-law’s grandfather, who had dementia, seemed to respond to the familiar words and melodies. I had also seen it when prayers were said in the synagogue at his nursing home. Elderly people – many of them with dementia – joining in with the songs and the familiar prayers. Sometimes mouthing the words or even saying them out loud.  It was amazing to see.

So yes, there is power in poetry, prayers and music. To these things that we all hold inside us.

When it’s my turn, I want Robert Louis Stevenson,  Wilfred Owen, Leonard Cohen and also to hear the cherished voices of my own children and grandchildren.

So, to celebrate National Poetry Day, let’s all learn a poem by heart today – and tell it to our children tomorrow.

Here’s an easy one to remember  from Robert Louis Stevenson:

The world is so full of a number of things

I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

Or how about this one – from me.

Poems are very hard to write

I think about them in the night

I wish that I had time to play

Then I’d write poems in the day!

Happy National Poetry Day everyone!

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


The days of our lives

Two items caught my interest on the news today.

We are told that we are all living for far longer. Apparently, every year another year is added to our life span.

On the other hand,  a report has forecast that the number of people in the UK who will get cancer during their lifetime will increase to nearly half the population by 2020.

So, we are living longer. But because we are living longer we are far more likely to get cancer!

In the same news bulletin, 92 year old Prince Philip was admitted to hospital for surgery. 92! What amazing longevity there is in the Royal family.

That led me to thinking of some of the elderly people I have met over the years. One memorable time was when I was reading my poems to an audience at The Poetry Society. I noticed an elderly gentleman sitting  in the front row, leaning forward, with his hand around his ear. Afterwards he came up to me  and said, “I couldn’t hear a word but I loved the vibrations!”

Or the old gentleman I once befriended at a London tube station.

Old Man

It’s no fun to be old

said the old old man

on the Metropolitan line

Eighty two I am

and still working

We took the train together

Hiss into the station

Off along the platform

Up up the weary stairs

A grey haired stranger

took his arm

An old man helping an old man

It’s no fun  to be old

We paused on the platform

for him to take breath

You going, he said

I won’t see you again

He grasped my hand

I kissed his cheek

It felt like death.

Now, here am I, steadily getting older. Not feeling it of course. But getting older nevertheless. As of course we all are.  I find myself looking back to a past when the days were longer, sunnier and all of life was in front of me.  And I am reminded of  the lyrics of one of my favourite Queen songs, “These are the days of our lives.”**

Sometimes I get the feelin’
I was back in the old days – long ago
When we were kids when we were young
Things seemed so perfect – you know
The days were endless we were crazy we were young
The sun was always shinin’ – we just lived for fun
Sometimes it seems like lately – I just don’t know
The rest of my life’s been just a show

Those were the days of our lives
The bad things in life were so few
Those days are all gone now but one thing is true
When I look and I find I still love you

You can’t turn back the clock you can’t turn back the tide
Ain’t that a shame
I’d like to go back one time on a roller coaster ride
When life was just a game
No use in sitting and thinkin’ on what you did
When you can lay back and enjoy it through your kids
Sometimes it seems like lately – I just don’t know
Better sit back and go with the flow

Cos these are the days of our lives
They’ve flown in the swiftness of time
These days are all gone now but some things remain
When I look and I find no change

Those were the days of our lives – yeah
The bad things in life were so few
Those days are all gone now but one thing’s still true
When I look and I find
I still love you

I still love you

**Words and music by Queen

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


Happy birthday

Another birthday

Something happens

Between 59 and 60.

You become a senior

and all of a sudden

you don’t recognise

that person in the mirror

and on the scales.

You shuffle in your slippers

read the papers

and pop pills.

The receptionist

at the doctor’s

knows your name.

Complete strangers

call you my darling

and my dear.

You want to be offered seats

on trains

And flat shoes seem

a better option

than high heels.

You are now

a silver surfer

so you search for

senior bargains online

There must be some perk

to reaching this age.

Hotels offer you

twin beds

and disabled bathrooms.

11 o’clock at night

seems very late to be out

and you find yourself

wanting to nap

in the middle of the day.

Your children ask how you are

but don’t really want to know

and people say you look well

when they mean

you are looking good for your age.

You have become invisible

to the opposite sex

and to anyone

under forty.

People talk about “special” birthdays

and give you soppy smiles.

You wish you were

growing old disgracefully

but just don’t have the energy.

Come upstairs and make love to me

I read somewhere.

I can do one or the other

was the answer

Don’t expect me to do both.

I’ve started listening to the Archers

and the weather forecasts

Doing crosswords

and reading the obituaries

Seeing the names of

people I once knew

Thank goodness Mick Jagger

can still strut his stuff

and Macca too

still performing

whilst others the same age

languish in care homes

uncared for and forgotten.

It’s odd to think

that in ten years or so

I will look back at this time

And think myself young.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


Motherhood

You give birth and overnight your life changes. Now there’s someone else who’s always going  to come first with you.  For the rest of your life.  Even when your kids are grown up, barely a day goes by when you don’t think of them.

Here are some poems I’ve written about the parent/child relationship.

I wrote this first one after the birth of our daughter.

Hannah Sleeping                               

  I watch my child asleep in bed

What dreams can she be dreaming

The little sleepy head

I want to build a wall around her cot

Shield her from the world

Instead I tuck the blankets tight

And kiss my sleeping child goodnight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When she got married last year, I wrote this:

I watch my child become a wife

What dreams will she be dreaming

For the rest of her sweet life

Their love will build a wall around their world

Around their lives

And as I take her hand in mine

I wish that I could rewind time.

I wrote this next poem in 1995, about six months before my mother died. 

 Role Reversal

Today, I held my mother

sobbing in my arms

Stroking her soft,  fine hair

Her chin nuzzled on my chest

And I could smell

the unforgotten fragrance

of her skin

I held her close

as I have held my children

and felt the frailty of her age

How odd and imperceptibly

the tables turn

And those that you have leaned on

lean on you

Those that you had turned to

turn to you

Now she is the child

And I am the mother

Yesterday (6 March) was 15 years to the day that my mother died.

  

I visited the grounds at Hoop Lane crematorium – as I do every year – where her ashes were scattered.

You might think that this is a depressing thing to do. But, at this time of the year, it is uplifting. There are thousands of crocuses as far as the eye can see.

For the first time ever, I had a go at writing a haiku.  This is a three line Japanese poem.  It must have five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and five in the third, final line.

Remembrance

Scattered crocuses

Ashes scattered on the grass:

Scattered memories

 

© Andrea Neidle. My Life in Poems