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Ruby - A Poem

Updated on September 12, 2013
St George's Day in Catalonia
St George's Day in Catalonia | Source

This poem is inspired by PHILLYDREAMER's weekly poetry challenge "The Faces of Death".

For many years I worked with the elderly in care, many of whom suffered with dementia and other health problems. In this environment, death is never far away, and although months would go by with no-one passing away, suddenly there would be a spate of deaths (usually three) in close succession to each other.

Working as closely with death as I did gave me a unique perspective on the subject. I would never say you get "hardened to it" because that's not true, but getting job satisfaction from ensuring someone's passing was dignified, and they were as comfortable as possible, became the best way to deal with it. We never left anyone alone who was dying, if their families were not there, then one of us would be, so I witnessed many final breaths.

As I said, death usually came in three's (this could also include the budgie or the cat), so I'm going to write three poems on this subject, all different experiences of death from the care home I used to work in.

This poem is about Ruby, a lady who lived with us in the home for 9 years before she passed away. She was a fantastic character, with a sharp wit and a good heart, and loved dearly by all of us! Her family also loved her dearly, and not a day went by in all of the 9 years she lived in the home that one or more of them did not visit her, and they were with her at the end.


Source

RUBY


"Self praise is no reward"

You used to say

And you'd thank the Lord

For every day

Trying hard

To find a way

To make sense of things

Come what may.


Dementia,

While it stole your mind,

It couldn't take

The love inside

Of you

Or your witty tongue,

Playing

With the young,

You did belong

To us.


Ruby

When you said to me

"We'll meet in heaven"

I could see

The light was fading

From your eyes,

Tired you were

And no surprise

At ninety seven

Years of age


Then one day

You stayed in bed

Didn't want to get up

You said.

Respect your wishes

So we did.

Love

Plays it's final game

And as we sat and watched you fade

Our hearts were breaking

All the same


DEATH

Inevitable and true

Always does what he has to do,

But not as quickly

As he should...


For Ruby

Lying in her bed

A waiting game

For Deaths sweet head

To appear

And move her on

To the next

World unknown.


But as the timepiece

Ticks away

Fear takes hold

And does betray

The faith

That she's had all her life,

That's kept her strong

Through love

And strife...


A week goes by

We hold your hand,

Deaths rattle

Warning

That the sands

Of time

Are running out for you

My dear


Please don't fear

What's to come

For love surrounds you

And your son

And family

Are sitting here

Unable to bear

Their suffering

As death draws near.


Then clarity!

First time in years

Your eyes open

Not in fear

True and clear

A smile appearing on your lips

Your final breath

Deaths sweet kiss.


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    • Jennifer Stone profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Stone 4 years ago from the Riverbank, England

      Ausseye, I thank you for your very eloquent words and for taking the time to comment on my poem... this one always makes me a little emotional... even now! :) All the best, Jen

    • profile image

      Ausseye 4 years ago

      Hi Jen,

      A poem oh so sadly sweet

      Has left a trail to life

      To walk in bold respite

      Awaiting a universal sight

      Of endless timeless light

    • Jennifer Stone profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Stone 5 years ago from the Riverbank, England

      Thank you Lesley, I'm glad you liked it, and thanks for the share! Best wishes, Jen

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Jennifer, your words are so incredibly gentle, beautiful yet sad, an awesome piece of writing - well done, voting up and shared.

    • Jennifer Stone profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Stone 5 years ago from the Riverbank, England

      Jean, I can only imagine what you've been going through this last month! How awful for you! I'm so glad you've found your brother and I do hope he'll be ok.

      Thank you for your very kind words about my poem, all the best to you Jean (and big fat cyber hugs coming from the riverbank in England!)

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 5 years ago from New Jersey

      My brother has been missing and feared dead for about a month now, and I've been very upset. I finally found him in a hospital yesterday, and although he is sick, he is alive. But the emotional roller coaster I was on all month and my thoughts of his death, maybe alone, tortured me. You are a wonderful person to take such good care of these people, and I'm crying as I read your poem. You expressed it with such beauty. Thank you.

    • Jennifer Stone profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Stone 5 years ago from the Riverbank, England

      bravewarrior, I think that may be more normal than me... able to write about people dying but too choked about my dogs to write about them! :-)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Yeah, I can relate, Jen. The only poems I've written about death are about cats I've lost or had to euthanize. What does that say about me??????

    • Jennifer Stone profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Stone 5 years ago from the Riverbank, England

      Thank you for your kind words bravewarrior, death can be a difficult subject to talk about it's true. I think it's harder when it's so close to you. I've had friends die tragically young, and, bizarrely, two dogs that I'm nowhere near being able to write about yet! All the best to you my friend, Jen

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      This is beautiful, Jen. It must be very hard for you, being in an environment where death is a common occurance. Then again, we need people like you to ease the way for those who are alone or afraid and out of their comfortable environments.

      I actually did not take Phillydreamer up on this particular challenge because I've only been "with" the dying in their dying days twice in my life. One was my son's father. I suppose maybe I should reconsider, because I did have emotions and thoughts I was going to say at his memorial, but was too choked up to talk.

      Thank you for your courage and God bless you!

    • Jennifer Stone profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Stone 5 years ago from the Riverbank, England

      Thanks Josh, I think it's good to push ourselves and try something new. (I'm working on number 2 now, but had to have a funny interlude with the spider thing... lol)

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Jen,

      You did great with this challenge! Like, you said, you may enjoy writing humorous stories, but this proves that you are able to step out of your comfort zone. Awesome job Jen!

    • Jennifer Stone profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Stone 5 years ago from the Riverbank, England

      Billybuc, thank you! Your comments have made me smile, I think that's how I wanted it to feel..

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      So many emotions throughout this work; beautiful and yet sad.....a sweet melancholy if you will.

    • Jennifer Stone profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Stone 5 years ago from the Riverbank, England

      Thank you Deborah for your words and the share. It is very painful watching people we love and I'm so sorry you've gone through this yourself. Sending hugs from the riverbank in England, Jen

    • Jennifer Stone profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Stone 5 years ago from the Riverbank, England

      LaThing, thank you, I'm glad you liked it!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I am crying this is so beautiful and sad.. Losing someone like Ruby.. thats how it was when my sister and mom died.. You wrote it so wonderful..

      sharing

      Debbie

    • LaThing profile image

      LaThing 5 years ago from From a World Within, USA

      Beautifully written ..... So humbling! Thank you for sharing....

    • Jennifer Stone profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Stone 5 years ago from the Riverbank, England

      It is a very sad thing spy, I had to stop for a little cry as I wrote, but my tears are out of respect for the lady she was and the incredible life she had lived, she earned some tears and sorrow in her passing. It's ok to feel sad, as long as we can still move on and live our lives, I'm convinced we get to see the people we love again when it's our turn! *hugs*

    • Jennifer Stone profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Stone 5 years ago from the Riverbank, England

      PHILLYDREAMER it is hard to watch a person in their last throws of life, especially people you love. I feel my experience in the care home was a gift, it gave me an understanding of death, with a similar experience common to all the elderly who were approaching it (no matter what their beliefs were). I'm actually reassured by my observations that this life is not "the end". I will try and tackle this in the next poem, and then is one about a sudden death. Thank you for your feedback, Jen

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile image

      Jose Velasquez 5 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      I must say it was hard for me to read your explanation of how you witnessed many final breaths. I can't imagine having to do this, not even for someone I love. I like how you ended the poem with Ruby smiling at the end, but man I'm tearing up thinking about the people I love going through this.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      it's like i remember someone who went away with forever..its really sad..

    • Jennifer Stone profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Stone 5 years ago from the Riverbank, England

      Thank you spy, I'm much better at wording humorous poems or stories really but I thought I'd give this challenge a go! :-)

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      ohhh so sad yet beautifully written, Jen. i love it.