“Don’t get old!” she used to say,
As she struggled with bones that moved with decay.
No longer the spritely, skipping girl,
Who ran home delighted and arrived in a whirl.
“Don’t get old!” she used speak,
As she wrestled with muscles that were tired and weak.
No longer the strong-armed, confident woman,
Who pounded bread and baked pies in the oven
“Don’t get old!” she used to utter,
As she fought with lungs now filled with clutter.
No longer the grey haired, ample senior,
Who fooled us with stories of a delicate femur.
I don’t know why, but I began to think about my Grandma, who died many years ago now. Perhaps it was because I was about to return home to celebrate my own mum’s birthday and perhaps I began to think about those people who are no longer there. I remember once offering to take my grandma for a drive. She was an old lady by then and often struggled with arthritis and very bad knees. Getting into and out of the car was difficult. On this one day, she struggled herself into the front seat, placed her stick carefully alongside her, then turned and said “Debs, don’t get old!” I remember the frustration in her voice.
In contrast to the years while I was a child, that she spent fooling me. Each week, Grandma would pay a visit to our house and would be waiting in the kitchen when I returned home from school. I loved sitting on her knee chatting and playing with a gold necklace she always seemed to wear round her neck. Eventually, her poor knees would become tired and she would utter, in all seriousness and with great drama, that it was time to get down, because she had a bone in her leg. Her voice always made it sound such a painful thing, that I would quickly and apologectically climb down. Until one day, while climbing down off her knee, the penny dropped “Grandma?” I said quizzically, “You have to have a bone in your leg!” The ruse was exposed. But by then, I had grown too big to sit on her knee any longer and she was beginning to grow small.