Growing up, living in Eliot Lake, a mining town,
she overcame hardships of the Great Depression,
surviving on watered down soup and stale bread
from charity of the upper crust, eventually working as a secretary
in a small doctor’s office. Stumbling on to her husband-to-be,
a chance encounter, at a singles dance, during the winter of 1942.
She married, lived as a stay-at-home mother,
Eagerly carried out the daily routines of cooking, cleaning,
grocery shopping, raising five children on middle-income wages of a miner,
A man who, in later years, preferred drinking booze more than affection.
Immersed herself, during leisure,in fictional stories,
classic novels of literature.Her favorite D. H. Lawrence’s “Son’s and Lovers.”
In recent years, she’s battled the afflictions of aging:
First, the beast of breast cancer attacking her aging body,
resulting in double mastectomy.
Followed by cataracts creeping in, fogging her eye sight.
Then, when eighty arrived, she began to feel the aching bones
Of arthritis, to notice how sound was becoming like a whisper.
Now, she lives alone in a three bedroom bungalow,
Surviving on Canada Pension, Old Age Security,
enduring isolation for days on end, interrupted occasional
by a passerby, most often, the mailman,
her only speaking companion, until weekends,
when one of her grown children visits,
takes her for to a restaurant for dinner,
prime rib, mashed potatoes, buttered peas.
Then to see a film at the cinema,
where they’ll sit in the front row, peer at the big screen.
Every morning, at dawn, the clock on the bedside table
Rings. She’ll rise from her single bed,
feeling optimistic— for another day in this world,
wrap herself in a blue, fleece bathrobe,
slides her feet into beige cotton slippers,
hobble to the kitchen, balancing herself with a wooden cane.
She’ll put together a bowl of oatmeal cereal, sweeten it
with brown sugar, couple ounces of milk. Toast a piece
of white bread, spread over strawberry jam, brew a pot of
Earl Grey Tea, then place them on a portable table
in the living room.
Then fetch the paper from the front porch,
turn on the vintage RCA Victor radio,
tune into a talk show on CBC,
relax in the ragged burgundy wing chair,
nibble away, like a bird at the feeder, on breakfast,
sip tea in a bone china cup,
until the pot’s empty, reading the paper, front to back,
with a magnifying glass.
Afterwards, she’ll gaze at a photograph, as if a memorial,
a portrait of her deceased husband,
resting on the ledge of the fireplace,
recall for a few moments— pleasurable memories
during the early forties— the times they danced as young naive,
idealistic lovers, to the music of big band playing swing jazz,
songs like “Where in the Mood” by the likes of Glen Miller.
Then she’ll affectionately pat, Waldo, her pet Schnauzer,
loyal companion, laying curled up beside her,
mutter, “It’s a good day.
The Lord hasn’t taken me yet.
My name wasn’t in the obits.”