Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Nursing homes and convalescent centers, as we know them today, were almost unheard of when I was a youngster. Overall, people now live longer than they did back then. And with our modern life style, most families find themselves too busy to give proper home care to their older members.
A visit to a nursing home to see old friends or family members can give cause for some serious thought. It can be a stark reminder of just how short is our stay here on earth and of how flimsy the thread used by life’s weaver. Also may give us reason to wonder how we will react to all of the aches and pains and infirmities of age.
Some nursing home residents find it difficult to leave behind the freedom to come and go as they please. Others, who once took great pride in their work and other various achievements, find a life devoid of such activities almost unbearable.
Then there are a number who still count their blessings. They appreciate the fact they no longer must cope with the workaday world. Or the outdoors’ extreme heat and cold. They appreciate the comfort of knowing there will be food on the table at mealtime, and that doctors and nurses are readily available to look after them. And many enjoy the company of others their own age.


Twelve residents gather
In the spacious lobby
Of the Stone County Home
On a cold winter day.

Roy James is a talker,
He is seldom quiet,
Greets the home’s visitors
Each day at the front door.

Jim Knight is a walker,
He prances and paces
Spending much of his time
Circling the lobby floor.

Joyce Wilson says,"They serve
The noon meal quite early.
Line up right here when you
Hear them call out our name

“The food isn’t bad, but
As time goes by, it seems
Everything they serve here
Pretty much tastes the same.”

Tex Jones, an ex-cowboy,
Spent years in the saddle –
Long, hard days that left his
Body aching and sore

He says, “This new wheelchair
Has a real soft saddle.
I’m glad I don’t have to
Ride the range anymore.”

Gray-haired Fred Smith looks back
Across the dim past to
Long years working in a
Hot and noisy steel mill,

I sure don’t miss time clocks
Or factory whistles.
With that whole scene
I haveCertainly had my fill!”

Kate Johnson speaks fondly
Of raising her children
In youthful, but now dim,
Hazy days long gone by.

No matter how she tries,
She can’t quite recall the
Old recipe for her
Great sour cream raisin pie.

Floyd Brown joins the group,
but Is quiet, as always
His thoughts elsewhere,as if
Lost in some bygone day.

The one-time mechanic,
And son of a blacksmith,
Often yearns for his red
Fifty-eight Chevrolet.

Thomas Johnson recalls
Days sailing “the briney.”
Tomorrow he’ll ship out,
But only in daydreams.

He smells the salt air,
Sees the breeze fill the sails –
Feels his ship lurch forward –
At least, that’s how it seems.

Josh Kaiser leans forward,
And silently nods off,
With his handsome gray head
Almost down in his lap.

Mae Adams wheels off down
The North Hall to her room,
Says, “I think it’s time now
For my afternoon nap.”

Lester Williams leans back
In a soft recliner.
Thinks of summer and corn
Growing tall in his fields

His years of hard work and
Great pride in producing
Some of Dubuque County’s,
And the state’s record yields.

Clyde Wright shakes his head and
Says, “Life sure does change when
Old age comes and we can
No longer come and go

“But this place isn’t bad.
I’m treated real well here.
Somehow, it’s become the
Only real home I know.”

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