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MY FIVE LOST YEARS


Blog Posted:4/2/2012 11:53:00 AM
 1

By Cheryl Clock, The Standard

Five years of her life didn't happen.

Only, it did. Every minute of it.

And if that sounds confusing, imagine how it felt to be Elizabeth Wesley, the woman whose life was lost for all those years.

Lost, somewhere. No one really knows.

Then, somehow, as mysteriously as it was lost, it was found. And she began to live again.

Her story begins with her last memory, seven years ago.

Elizabeth, 72, had recently retired from her career as a nurse. She remembers driving down the street and several times, bumping into the curb. Her tire blew. She pulled into a vacant lot and a man stopped to help her.

And that's where her memory ends.

The next few years have been filled by stories told to her. She ended up at the St. Catharines General Hospital, and eventually returned to the apartment where she lived alone with her two little Schnauzers.

Only, odd things started to happen. Her daughter, Heidi Avella, a nurse at McMaster Medical Centre, puts it like this: "She was disintegrating in front of my eyes."

She started chain smoking. Heidi noticed burn holes in her clothing, chairs and carpet. There was afire on the stove. She was losing weight. She fell a few times outside. And there was a debilitating pain in the back of her neck.

Doctors at St. Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton looked at her and offered a diagnosis: Pick's Disease, a rare, degenerative disease that destroys nerve cells in the brain. She was midway through the seven-year life expectancy.

"This year, would be the year of her death," says Heidi.

Heidi took time off work and made funeral arrangements. "I buried my mom," she says.

The woman in her mother's body was no longer her mother. Her hands shook so much she couldn't hold a knife. She drooled. And like a caged animal, she tried many times to escape the hospital. "She had a blank, empty look in her eyes," says Heidi.

And the woman who "would save a spider because it was somebody's mother," became belligerent.

Eventually, she ended up at Albright Manor in Beamsville in a locked unit.

She needed help with everything. Brushing her teeth. Getting dressed.

There were times when she'd do odd things like stand inside a dark closet for hours at a time.

She remembers none of this.

And then one day, something happened that she does remember. There was a man on her unit who screamed a lot. She hit him on the head with a book.

After that, little by little, she came out of the fog.

"It just started to unfold," she says.

Eventually, in September 2008, she was well enough to be moved into a more independent area at Albright.

And then, something equally strange happened. She developed a passion for poetry and watercolour painting.

"It blossomed," she says. In just over a year, she wrote 200 or so poems. They all rhyme, because that's the way she likes poetry.

Some are about subjects she's read. Some, her own experiences. She recently compiled them into a book, Polished Stones (Author House, $14.95).

"It unfolds as you write it," she says. "Sometimes it just flows out of you. Other times you have to think about it and play with it."

Elizabeth pauses, closes her eyes and begins to recite a phrase from one of her poems. Tender Moments.

Come lie with me infields of sweet clover,

Where honey bees fly and the scent hovers over;

Where all we feel is always new,

And minutes are plenty but the hours are few.

Elizabeth once lived on a farm.

She had goats whose milk she turned into yogurt. Three beef cattle. A couple chickens. And a white Appaloosa horse with black spots. "She rode like the wind," she says.

She canned and froze produce from the garden. And had her two children pick and stem elderberries, which she turned into pies for the winter.

For many years, she worked as a registered practical nurse at the Welland hospital, then at nursing homes in Niagara.

Poetry and art became part of her healing.

"It gives me a way to express my inner self in a way I don't normally do," she says.

"I love what I see," she says. "I get an idea in my head, how I'd like to translate that onto paper.

"I suppose it's the same with poetry. You get a feeling about something and you want to translate it in your own way because it means something to you."

Painting came at about the same time as poetry. She's never had a lesson. Never painted before those lost five years.

"Once in awhile, something turns out that I feel good about," she says, laughing.

"It gives me a sense of having some kind of control over a medium that can be challenging.

"It was like entering a new world. One that I hadn't experienced before."

Her small room is like a gallery of her work. Two herons dancing in the snow. A rose. Two roosters.

"Watercolour is so fluid," she says. "The colour swims in its own direction."

And in a way, so does Elizabeth. She is a different person now. She can't drive. And she sometimes feels overwhelmed in a crowd of people. She went to Walmart once with a friend and temporarily lost sight of her. "I felt totally alone in a sea of people," she says.

Doctors have no explanation. Her family doesn't believe she has Pick's Disease.

Heidi uses words like confusing, inspirational, and a miracle. "I'm grateful to have my mother back," she says.

Elizabeth doesn't ask why. She's just happy to be back and her faith is stronger for it. On the back cover of her book, she offers this: I was placed in an institution and heard stories of who I had become. Some were funny and some were sad but all were about someone I never knew.

It finally ended and I started to live again. These poems are the celebration of an awakening ...

Time has always intrigued her. Even more now.

"It's so illusive," she says. "Here we are in spring and I know it will be fall and then it will be all gone and we'll face another long, cold winter.

"Time never stands still.

"It's always moving. It's like it has a life of its own."

* * *

For more information on Elizabeth Wesley's book of poetry, Polished Stones, visit www.authorhouse.com.

cclock@stcatharinesstandard.ca

- - -

Tender Moments

All of the tender moments we shared,

When you held my hand and told me you cared;

Bring to each day a new fascination,

With lips to kiss, a heart filled with elation.

Come lie with me infields of sweet clover,

Where honey bees fly and the scent hovers over;

Where all we feel is always new, And minutes are plenty but the hours are few.

Let me hold you close and look in your eyes,

And speak all the words my heart denies;

For when I hold you near I can feel my heart,

Beating each moment till we have to part.

And as we walk our ways into a setting sun,

The parting of ways will merge into one.

-- from Polished Stones, by Elizabeth Wesley

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  1. Date: 10/1/2012 3:05:00 AM
    Hi Elizabeth, I have just returned to P.S after a few months and catching up on poetry and the community. I am so inspired by you....you are amazing thankyou for sharing. I'm glad that I have the priviledge to interact with such amazing people here at the Poetry Soup community -

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  1. Date: 6/22/2012 9:43:00 PM
    Dear Elizabeth.....this is the most compelling and fascinating story I have ever heard. To lose five years of your life is mind boggling and so sad, but you came back and thus able to share your beautiful poetry and paintings with the world....I for one am amazed....welcome back! How do I go about seeing your paintings? Hugs

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  1. Date: 5/27/2012 7:30:00 PM
    It must have been a haunting experience, Elizabeth. Still, we are blessed by your return and the poetical thoughts you share with us! I'd read this before, however I'd been so sad and thoughtful that I didn't know what to say. Be happy, Keep well...and wishing you the best! You truly are an amazing woman! love, Mikki

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  1. Date: 5/17/2012 4:55:00 AM
    Wow I had no idea this happen to you. I glad your better now. Your even more amazing than I thought. Good luck with your book. Keep writing and living.

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  1. Date: 4/7/2012 6:23:00 PM
    Elizabeth, that is a very unique story that you have told..I am glad that you got better and have been able to share your gift with us..I enjoy reading your work..I wish you much success with your book and your art work..God can heal when man can't..Sara

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  1. Date: 4/5/2012 8:18:00 AM
    this is my third time being fasinated by this story.it seems as if this time it was told in the third person. making me wonder is this.... let me get off that wagon quick. anyway when i get a chance to get your book i will. by the way how are you doing with mine. maybe it's a bit too much for you to read. so you dont have to. i wouldn't want to depress you.

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  1. Date: 4/3/2012 9:10:00 PM
    for anyone out there with e-readers, it is available on kobo, I have already purchased my copy and started reading it, It's wonderful Elizabeth

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  1. Date: 4/3/2012 12:39:00 PM
    I hope life continues to improve. Epilepsy took much from me and tremors took away my painting while I was still young... They gave me a pace maker for my heart and another for my mind... to wake it up. Then I started falling and landed on my head... For the first time in my life my imagination woke up and poetry began...I understand the loss and reawakening. Good luck in all you do.

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  1. Date: 4/3/2012 10:41:00 AM
    we are so lucky that you have come back to us to share your exceptional talent, this is such a deeply emotional story, thank you for sharing it with us.

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  1. Date: 4/2/2012 9:10:00 PM
    Wow! Elizabeth, wot an amazingly inspiring story! I had no idea wotsoever. This might seem a bit strange, but the part of the story when you begin regaining your memory after hitting the "yeller" over the head with a book is....is simply smashing! I am so glad that you did hit him over the head with a book. The possible implications of that action alone are absolutely astounding to me. Thank goodness you overcame such odds!

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  1. Date: 4/2/2012 6:57:00 PM
    thank you for sharing...pd

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  1. Date: 4/2/2012 6:46:00 PM
    Elizabeth-love, you know I think you're the cat's pajamas! My emotions were all over the place as I read of your heartbreaking and yet inspirational story. I first wept, almost uncontrolably (thank goodness hubbie was here with girl) as I have a friend who's mother in law had picks. I know how devastating it is, how merciless. Then I read of your lost years, oh, I could barely read further. And then recovery? Oh, JOY! GENUINE JOY! Your poems were meant to be created, it was one of the reasons you were 'returned' for lack of a better word. I always had questions, dearheart, but it took me forty years to learn not to pry, to let others tell things when they are ready. Thank you for sharing so much of your heart and live. I am so glad you have a family! That is the one thing above all I'd wanted to ask...feared asking...I am so glad you have loved ones. You are too stylish, Madame! Oh, how classy, looking the proper author. Oh, your paintings are amazing! I wish I could really hug you oxo

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  1. Date: 4/2/2012 6:36:00 PM
    Debbie, if you click on Cherly Clock link it will bring you to the newspaper. This is a newspaper article written by Cheryl Clock, and if you get to another link, you will also find photos of Elizabeth's gorgeous watercolours. What a testiment to the human spirit, strength through adversity, God's healing touch, miracles, and the power of creativity UNLEASHED.

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  1. Date: 4/2/2012 3:40:00 PM
    Elizabeth, your story is amazing, and (for once) I agree with frank, it was truly a triumph of the soul. May God bless you with many more years to share your beautiful poetry here with us on the soup. We love you. hugs, Catie :)

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  1. Date: 4/2/2012 3:31:00 PM
    I am totally befuddled? Are you [the person who wrote the blog above] Elizabeth? OR are you Elizabeth's daughter? Have we been reading Elizabeth's poetry here? or her daughters poetry? Who ever has been here with us is certainly a very nice person yet I would like to know who is speaking? [You can soup mail me?]

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  1. Date: 4/2/2012 2:35:00 PM
    What a remarkable story Elizabeth. And to think that you received such wonderful gifts in your poetry and your art. Thank you for letting us read about this brave woman that you are.

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  1. Date: 4/2/2012 1:39:00 PM
    wow, what an amazing story, elizabeth. it makes your beautiful poetry even more inspiring. i'm so glad you came through it all. lovely happy pic, by the way

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  1. Date: 4/2/2012 1:33:00 PM
    Elizabeth, a truly fascinating story, hope it continues to improve,love your writing..David

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  1. Date: 4/2/2012 12:30:00 PM
    What a wonderful story. So glad you are sharing your poems with us.

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My Past Blog Posts

 
the unroyal family
Date Posted: 2/10/2013 4:26:00 PM
MY FIVE LOST YEARS
Date Posted: 4/2/2012 11:53:00 AM
Amazing news !!!
Date Posted: 2/1/2012 3:00:00 PM
Just wanted to say...........
Date Posted: 12/21/2011 6:53:00 AM
writer's block
Date Posted: 11/24/2011 8:29:00 PM

My Recent Poems

Date PostedPoemTitleFormCategories
6/21/2014 Affliction of Assyria Rhymereligion,
1/13/2014 War and Peace Rhymelove,
4/15/2013 Have You Ever Rhymelife,lost,lost,
4/1/2013 Fool's Gold Rhymelove,love,time,
3/6/2013 Being In Love Rhymelove,autumn,love,
1/28/2013 Delusion Rhymemoon,moon,
1/2/2013 Darkness Rhymelove,
12/4/2012 Upside Down Rhymefunny,song,song,
11/16/2012 Cry of the City Rhymelife,prayer,time,
11/8/2012 Night Comes Rhymetime,
10/21/2012 You Rhymelove,
10/11/2012 Interlude Rhymelost love,
9/26/2012 Shadows Rhymeangst,
9/13/2012 Benediction Rhymefaith,love,time,
8/27/2012 Regret Free verseloss,me,me,
8/21/2012 Still Waiting Rhymelove,me,me,
8/12/2012 Yesterdays Free verseangst,
7/20/2012 Another Face Rhymelost love,
7/14/2012 Love Filled Dreams Rhymelove,love,sensual,
7/3/2012 A Moment Rhymefaith,
6/20/2012 The River Rhymelife,boat,journey,river,
6/10/2012 Love Passing By Rhymelove,love,pride,
6/5/2012 His Eyes Free verselove,
5/29/2012 Autumn Memories Rhymeseasons,me,
5/15/2012 Life Rhymelife,
5/9/2012 Spring Reverie Rhymeseasons,spring,spring,
5/3/2012 How Great the Cost Rhymelife,lost,lost,
4/26/2012 Winds of Autumn Rhymelife,lost,autumn,lost,pow
4/18/2012 Cecilia Rhymelove,love,
4/6/2012 I Will Forget You Rhymelost love,lost,lost,love,
3/22/2012 Come to Me Rhymelost love,me,lost,lost,lo
3/17/2012 The Battle Rhymelove,woman,love,time,
3/3/2012 Complaint Rhymelife,earth,sad,
2/17/2012 A Place Rhymelife,dark,dark,
2/11/2012 Night Meets Day Rhymeangst,time,light,light,ti
2/6/2012 Emptiness of Living Rhymelife,men,
2/1/2012 Great News about my book Epicadventure,name,name,
1/25/2012 Need for Love Rhymenostalgia,light,light,lov
1/20/2012 Moonlight Magic Rhymeseasons,light,light,silve
1/13/2012 Tears to Weep Rhymehope,
1/6/2012 Ancestry Rhymelife,
1/2/2012 Trust Rhymehappiness,me,
12/27/2011 A New Year Rhymeholiday,peace,peace,
12/25/2011 Autumn Reverie Rhymenostalgia,autumn,flying,
12/16/2011 Samson and Delilah Rhymepassion,strength,
12/15/2011 Splendor Rhymelost love,love,
12/13/2011 Evening Dew Rhymenature,
12/10/2011 Lost Memories Rhymelost love,sweet,lost,autu
12/7/2011 Magic Rhymelove,heart,song,green,hea
12/5/2011 Can We Know Rhymelove,
12/2/2011 Neurosis Rhymeconfusion,
11/30/2011 Dance of the Seasons Rhymelost love,me,me,
11/28/2011 Song of Songs Rhymereligion,me,sweet,love,me
11/27/2011 Woman of Sorrow Rhymesad,words,sea,sea,
11/25/2011 Hands of Time - Sonnet Rhymelove,time,
11/23/2011 The Dance Rhymeimagination,music,lonely,
11/22/2011 Snowdrops Rhymenature,winter,winter,
11/21/2011 Hope Rhymelife,heart,heart,
11/17/2011 Done Deed Rhymedeath,
11/14/2011 The Dream Rhymelove,ocean,
11/12/2011 A Path Rhymelife,
11/10/2011 Conscience Rhymelife,heart,heart,
11/9/2011 Change Rhymelife,change,life,love,
11/7/2011 Eternity of Tears Rhymelost love,me,
11/6/2011 Over the Edge Rhymeloss,men,
11/4/2011 Only Make Believe Rhymelost love,me,sweet,me,swe
10/31/2011 Waiting For You Rhymelove,
10/30/2011 Indian Summer Rhymeseasons,autumn,autumn,lov
10/28/2011 Haiku Haikuimagination,
10/28/2011 Who Are the Men Rhymewar,
10/26/2011 When I Meet You Rhymelove,
10/25/2011 Separate Ways Rhymeloss,love,
10/24/2011 Memories Rhymenostalgia,
10/22/2011 That Place Rhymeloss,heart,heart,love,i l
10/16/2011 Bless My Beer Rhymefunny,
10/15/2011 Ocean's Lullaby Rhymesea,
10/14/2011 Destiny Rhymeloss,me,time,me,time,
10/12/2011 Aspiration Rhymelife,world,me,sad,
10/10/2011 The Renegade Rhymeadventure,horse,
10/9/2011 October Rhymeseasons,lost,lost,
10/8/2011 In Between Rhymetime,
10/5/2011 His Nose Rhymefunny,dark,dark,time,
10/4/2011 You Live In Me Rhymelove,memory,memory,
10/2/2011 A New Day Rhymelife,day,
10/1/2011 When He Came Rhymelove,me,me,
9/30/2011 Clouds Passing Rhymelost love,
9/30/2011 Lover's Knot Rhymelove,fear,love,me,
9/29/2011 I'll Need Time Rhymelost love,heart,heart,me,
9/28/2011 Time to Go Rhymeloss,time,love,sad,time,
9/28/2011 Trust Rhymelife,me,love,me,trust,
9/27/2011 Under September skies Rhymeromance,moon,september,ti
9/26/2011 Reason To Be Rhymelife,
9/23/2011 Lives to Live Rhymelife,sweet,autumn,love,so
9/23/2011 Introspection Rhymelove,words,love,
9/22/2011 Phantoms Rhymeimagination,me,sad,
9/21/2011 Love's Tribulation Rhymelove,longing,love,
9/19/2011 Love Me More Rhymelove,me,hope,love,me,
9/19/2011 Side By Side Rhymefunny,
9/19/2011 The Feast Sonnetlove,drink,
9/18/2011 Interlude Rhymelove,silver,

My Photos


Fav Poems

PoemTitleFormCategories
Love Never Lost Rhymelife,lovetime,time,
Dead End Versesad
State of undress Free versepassion,romance
Hillbilly Frankenstein Rhymefunnyme,
visions in REM Rhymelovedream,time,body,dream
The Passing Of A Day Rhymenature
THE ITCH Rhymefunny
The Salsa Dancer Rhymefantasy
If We Are All Just Dreaming and Life Has No Meaning Rhymeintrospection,life,life,
The Fairy of Motherhood Rhymecaregiving,love,mother,fa
Every Twist and Turn Lyriclife,sad,sweet,love,sad,s
Sonnet 26 Sonnetfriendship,
The Knight's Tale of the Night's Tail Light Poetryfunny,happy,night,happy,n
A Letter to Elizabeth Free versefriendship,words,me,
The Ides of March Light Poetryfunny,
Standstill Rhymebrother,death,friendship,
Dullahan Rides Balladadventure,death,imaginati
What Am I Personificationme,nature,
Eulogy for a Poet Light Poetryon writing and words,word
Singing in the Shower Light Poetryfunny,sweet,home,sound,vo
The Birds and the Bees PG13 Light Poetryfunny,dad,dad,me,
Beer Keg Legs Limerickgirlfriend-boyfriend,
To Her, With Love Dizaindedication,friendship,hap
Grand Canyon is Waiting Free verseimagination,love,
Excrushitting Haikufood,funny,nature,
EVERMORE Rhymeimagination,love,may,me,p
sunrise: multi coloured bands Haikunature,
My good name Rhymevisionary,me,name,betraya
She O'the Morrow Rhymeadventure,mystery,words,r
Nephilim Free versefantasy,
wizard Balladadventure,me,
THE AUTHORITY Quatrainangst,confusion,life,on w
Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain Rhymepolitical,people,people,
Clip Joints Rhymeloss,people,social,house,
If And When Lyricintrospection,
Tribute to a Polished Stone Rhymelife,love,on writing and
A Gentle Death Sonnetabsence,death,faith,love,
Measures Verseon writing and words,me,o
Gold-Trochee Rhymefunny,sports,me,race,
MYTHS Dramatic monologuefantasy,life,people,home,
Elizabeth's Words Sonnetdedication,poetess,
SUCCUBUS Quatraininspirational,self,joy,se
Who let the Dogs Out Limerickgrowing up,religion,god,e
Between You and Me Rhymeintrospection,
The Magic of September Wind Rhymeinspirational,nature,magi
Back Home Blues Rhymeintrospection,lost love,m
Cry of the City Rhymelife,prayer,time,
Scars Left Behind Rhymenostalgia,school,life,sch
It Rhymeadventure,
Ewmer Fudd the Easter Gwinch and Dis WEALLY Buggs Me - Narrativefunny,holiday,me,
The ABCs of Being Human Coupletintrospection,
The Meaning Of Life Bioinspirational,life,philos

Fav Poets

PoetCountry 
Carolyn Devonshire United States Flag United States Read
Tobey Hill United States Flag United States Read
Robert L. Hinshaw United States Flag United States Read
Sidney Hall Mad Poet United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
nette onclaud Philippines Flag Philippines Read
Emma Mantle United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
Rockman Pritts United States Flag United States Read
sarah seraphin United States Flag United States Read
delysia hendricks South Africa Flag South Africa Read
cory long United States Flag United States Read
john aaron green United States Flag United States Read
mike dailey United States Flag United States Read
robert johnson United States Flag United States Read
Zzzzz Zzzzz Norfolk Island Flag Norfolk Island Read
Kyle kriticos Canada Flag Canada Read
Bill Lindenmuth United States Flag United States Read
anne p. murray United States Flag United States Read
Rachel Heffington United States Flag United States Read
Dan Kearley United States Flag United States Read
Heidie Buys United States Flag United States Read