Saturday, 14 September 2013

If wishes were horses...

Woman on her Deathbed

I am not that old she says
as she grabs my hand,
well maybe,   maybe seasoned
with a little salt and pepper.

She smiles 
and I shy away;
do not want to share her death;
her inability to love
remains uppermost
plays depressing dirges in my mind.

I am distracted, lost in self,
cold indifferent to her needs.    
Pain, physical or otherwise
is all encompassing,  draining,
drains      emotional response
and I leave her there,  
alone.

I hear her whimpering,
wanting, needing;
her incessant pleading for my return
does naught but to quicken anger
and fetal-like
I curl into a tiny ball, try to shut her out

Clock ticks marks out time
and hours pass in eternal gloom. 
I am with her now
and she whispers
Child, if only I could change the past,
I would have loved you more.  I wish

that you could love me too.  But I do I do I do
but let not beggars ride…

She has gone now, died,
gone to where’er it is
the callous go,
yet she is here still
deep inside this memory,
a memory of  what could have been
in time so long ago
a childhood passed away

Anna :o]

Shanyn at dVerse has us writing of phrases heard somewhere or other that remain in your memory and emerge when you least expect them.

Eons ago, when I was a young thing, I went nightclubbing with a work friend and her mother; I can’t remember why her mother went, maybe to chaperone?  My work friend was called Lesley and I can still picture her face, but can’t recall her surname but can recall when I wished for something – can’t remember what that was either – her response was that of: If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

I had never heard this before and couldn’t understand her response, for it appeared callous and unnecessary – but this response has stuck with me to this very day and I hear myself saying it (in my head) should anyone wish for something.  And it was only today I sought its true meaning given as better results will be achieved by action than wishing, but of course this is often not so.

The poem bears witness to an experience of some years ago while I was attendant during the dying process of one of our residents, she a product of a dysfunctional family who continued the cycle producing one of her own.  Some mothers who have felt unloved by their own mother smother their children with ‘love’ to compensate, but it is a destructive love, a love of mixed messages, a love that creates hatred. 

Her (adult) children could not bear to be alone with her, hence my presence there.  I can remember our resident pleading (of her daughter) for proof of love, wishing to hear it in words… and the proverb spoke itself in my mind.  I felt bad about this then and still do.

(The words of the poem are that of the daughter.)

Image: courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Author: Van Gogh

36 comments:

thecourseofourseasons.com said...

so sad when we see these relationships play out - you captured the heartache, fear and rejection beautifully. K

Brian Miller said...

cool play on the saying...i have heard it but dont know that i understood it...what a sad situation you know...her inability to love and realizing that is her one major regret in the end...i dont want that to be me...ever...

Björn said...

Anna, this grabbed tightly at my heart... and how dysfunctional a family can be. Still remember what my father once said... "afterwards it's always too late". Great poem and story.

A Cuban In London said...

Not only did I love your poem but also your explanation as to where it came from. Marvellous. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Claudia said...

that is really moving anna.... and you really made me feel her.... i have never heard that saying before but def. something to ponder..

Glenn Buttkus said...

My grandfather used to say, "Wish in one hand, and crap in the other, and see which one fills up first."
Odd what we recall after a loved one passes. Is there more to the saying, if wishes were horses....? love the line/ let not beggars ride/ My mother died at 39 years of age, & 44 years later I still hear her homilies & sayings; nice job with the prompt.

Susan Daniels said...

Anna, what a powerful, powerful poem. I felt this one, deep in my chest.

Mystic_Mom said...

This moved me deeply. What a powerful post, and that saying is one I have heard for a long time. Thanks for sharing the origins link. Well done!

Grace said...

What a story, very moving ~ And that quote is unique too, my first to hear it ~

Martin said...

Tragical. A Rhenanian proverb says, "Had I and Would I are poor folks".

Mary said...

Ah, I have used that expression innumerable times. It is definitely an expression that has deep meaning. Your poem was very, very moving. Touching and sad!

aprille said...

Oh goodness, this makes me wish fervently that I do not die in bed. Anywhere else will be fine by me.Reading this I keep on hearing that inane drone: 'You can't always have what you wa...hant', from one or another horrible pop song. Your equivalent is so much more elegant.

Dave King said...

I can see why this would remain running through your head, and powerfully too. Just the sort of thing I tend to have learned and remembered from childhood.

Cro Magnon said...

Any end of life, that ends as such, is very sad. I do hope my own children won't feel like that about me when I breathe my last. One's whole life would feel worthless.

seasideauthor said...

Callousness in (TOO OLD TO CHANGE) is the saddest of all. Lack of appropriate expressions verbally or physically to those we love is dysfunctional, but so is society as a whole for not reaching out to some. Like how you write the end reality. It is lonely if you have no hand to hold. Even in life, not just at the end.

Tigerbrite said...

Stunning Anna. You captured fractured humanity. And yet when we go back there do we recognize ego overpowering spirit in this strange world?

Debi Swim said...

Very touching. Very sad. Very well done.

Kathryn said...

So very sad . . . I'm all about the saying "it's better to have loved and lost than never loved at all".

Truedessa said...

This is sad and that phrase is one I've never heard but, it sounds like it refers to wishes as being useless and that is sad as wishes keep our hopes alive. Nice write!

Victoria said...

How very sad. Last week in our local paper a woman posted a scathing obituary about the death of her abusive mother. It went viral. The paper removed it from the Internet, but there's still an article every day. The daughter did it to call attention to the fact that child abuse is still rampant. Sad endings.

Loredana Donovan said...

How sad. Never heard of that saying until now. The explanation of taking action versus wishing makes sense to me. I think it's wonderful to have hope, but one should follow through with action, too. Dysfunctional families unfortunately perpetuate when there is no real change. A very touching poem. Thank you for sharing.

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

So poignant!

Jyoti Mishra said...

I've never heard that phrase before..
it was so moving..
if wishes were horses.

regrets and wishes..
the feeling of going back correcting it all

beautiful.. !!

Cressida de Nova said...

Very interesting poem. You are in employment where you see the best and worst. Gives you a special position to impart your experiences which is not available to most of us.I love these 'real life' poems of yours. They are very insightful and thought provoking. I look forward to a lot more.There is so much value in your words!

aspiritofsimplicity said...

oh how sad. I feel so for both of the. But, especially for the daughter. The mother has come to terms and moved on. But, the daughter has the rest of her life to realize that she is like her mother...in the end she couldn't forgive -she couldn't love either. I wonder what her children will feel.

whenspaceissilence said...

I think you really captured the moment, the emotional baggage of both characters in a sad portrayal. One of your most powerful verses here is, in my opinion, "I curl into a tiny ball, try to shut her out". Very nice!

ADDY said...

So sad.

mindlovemisery said...

Oh wow Anna this really got to me. Especially the explanation at the end my grandmother was the type to smother with love but she had wild mood swings and could go from sweet to vicious within seconds. My mother took care of her and I was very close to her but her other children and their children spoke very poorly of her. She spoke very highly of them. She was so proud of her son but he would never come see her even when she was dying. Once her mood disorder was discovered and she was medicated she was actually very sweet but they couldn't forgive her. My mom forgave her and they became close in the end. If nothing else she loved very unconditionally which made it sadder somehow because she only saw good in them and not all the nastiest my mother and I saw. Your writing always impresses me and moves me, nearly to tears Anna!

Friko said...

This is a poem I will copy and paste.
I have my reasons.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank you for your kind and welcome comments folks - much appreciated.
Anna :o]

Manzanita said...

This really aroused a deep emotion within me. How sad that some children can't comfort their parents as they pass into death. Most likely, the parent always did the best they could. A child should hold the mother's hand, the same as the mother held the little hand of the child when they crossed the street. How she held the little hand when they entered the scary schoolhouse for the first time. How she held the little hand all night when the child was hot with fever. How quickly they forget.

Liz Rice-Sosne said...

Anna isn't this one of life's conundrums? Painful when and if we do it. If we have to do it.

Charlotte said...

Such sadness in the world. This breaks my heart. You did a great job of this subject.

Loredana Donovan said...

I came back for a second reading of your poem and the comments. Children who are emotionally abused by their parents grow up with trust and self-esteem issues and need for approval. They often end up picking partners who are also emotionally abusive, and the cycle continues. It's hard to forgive the abusive parent because the hurt is so deep. Only those who have been abused can truly understand this kind of pain. It takes years of therapy to heal from this, to finally come to terms with it, and forgive, and be able to love again. Thank you for bringing awareness to this serious issue.

Margaret said...

...and yet, sadly it is usually not found, this forgiveness and generous spirit. I know of one lady who laid down beside an old woman who had not been very warm and kind throughout her lifet. My friend Just got under the sheets with the old lady as she died and hugged her, soothed her, stroked her dying body. She is the happiest, most vibrant person I know... because she gives love where most people would not. The son of this woman sat in the hallway, and actually left before she his mother died (and he is one of the meanest, most selfish person I have ever met. So what am I saying... we need to get over our bitterness no matter what - or we will become it! Yes, your poem is awesome :)

Jenny Woolf said...

I can't help feeling that the daughter might regret not having done this for her mother on her death bed. But it is impossible to get a real feeling for others' relationships.