Here's the deal, folks...
This is, as indicated, the 3rd THIRD of this fairly lengthy poem. Due to Poetry Soup's file-size limitations, this piece had to be posted in 3 parts.
The 1st and 2nd THIRDS can be accessed, of course, by going to - "Poems by Mark Stellinga" - on the soup. So sorry for the inconvenience...it's worth the read.
Well...the day that we met I was twenty years old, and last Friday - I turned thirty-three.
Dad died last year - the last of his clan - and I never wed...so the last of my fam’ly...is me.
On July twenty-seventh she turned ninety-five, and has - for two years - been living in a home
For people who need things that I can’t provide. And most every Sunday I’ll bring her a poem
From those that I’ve written on lasting relationships...strong marriages...and being, like we are, best friends,
And ours was the sort...my and Nadine’s...that...as I’ve asserted...up until death...never ends.
The home where she’s at’s only five miles away, and I drop in to see her whenever I can.
Her mem’ry is failing, but I’m never bothered when - once in a while - she mistakes me for Dan!
“She used to say – ‘Jimmy...every so often...by closing my eyes really tight when you talk,
Whether I’m lying in bed when you visit, or I’m in my chair when we’re taking a walk,
“I can hear Dan in your voice, without question...and I can see Dan in the way that you move!”
Then, searching my eyes to confirm that her comment was not one of which I would fail to approve,
I reassured her, “Nadine, you’re a sweetheart...and things about me that remind you of him
Make me as proud as a peacock!”...as she opened a card - for her birthday - that was signed at the bottom…“Love, Jim”.
Cradling the card with her thin little hands, she captured my eyes, while clasping it close to her breast -
“You’ve been the son that I lost,” she explained, “and my closest companion since losing the rest,
“And I think it’s time for - the one man who can - given I’ve limited time on this earth...
Tells me the truth...before it’s too late...how much that beat up old inkwell was worth!”
Confident only collectors would know what the value of boogered up inkwells might be,
Once I’d stopped laughing, I told her, “Nadine...that little jewel is worth millions…to me!”
I’d taken “our kids”...as we lovingly called them...the morning the medics had come to her house,
(A house that she’d shared for eleven sweet years with her two little roommates...but never a mouse),
To help her with packing the things she would need. I always choke up when I think of that day.
With both of us crying...and neither with others that genuinely cared...I wept as the truck drove away.
My place was newer, but Cindy and Callie both had grown up in her house, as you know,
So...somewhat concerned about making the change...that leaving Nadine’s would be too big a blow...
I listed my house. Five ‘n’ a half years ago...after tiring of dealing with landlords and leases...
I bought me a nice little three-bedroom ranch, and began taking some of the fairly old pieces -
Still in good shape - because I was keen to remodel...and swappin’ them out, as they say, now and then
For things of Nadine’s that had seen better days...which would typically induce...“You’re doin’ it again!”
Usually perturbed by my helping her out...like I had with “the gift” on the evening we’d met,
And making her let me procure what I felt would diminish her sadness...a cute little pet...
There was - now and then - a pricier piece that...due to her pride, she’d adamantly refused,
Suspecting I’d purchased it new - just for her! She’d only accept what I’d tell her was used!
I purposely left the old armchair she’d sat in, the day that I’d met her...it needed to stay.
Cindy and Callie, who got along great, would take little naps in that chair every day.
And I won’t forget the smiles that we’d get whenever all three of us came for a chat,
Nothing worked better to conjure up laughter than Cindy, our Yorkie, and Callie, our cat.
A couple weeks back, with both of our babies at rest on her pillows...one either side...
While holding her hand...her fingers went limp...and we knew our Nadine had just peacefully died.
The tactical trade that Nadine had...at first...refused to engage in...but finally did...
The one where I’d offered a top-dollar goodie for a chipped up old inkwell, missing its lid...
Enters my mind whenever I look at what’s sitting today on the same desk it had.
It helps me remember…...though I’d never have given an inkwell that bad to my dad!
That, and the chair, and a few other things remind me of how our relationship started.
And now that it’s down to just me an’ the kids...who’ve been going down hill since the day Nadine parted...
It don’t look to me like it’s gonna be long ‘til I’ll be recruitin’ a roommate myself,
‘Cause all I’ll have left is a handful o’ pictures of me an’ the kids - and Nadine - on a shelf!
For the past twenty years now I’d been livin’ alone...but nothin’, of course, like Nadine had gone through...
And I’d begun wondering - what would a loner...whose fam’ly’s been gone for a decade or two,
Do in the same situation as hers - his health fairly poor...his loved ones all gone...and money to live on is scant?
How does a man, all alone, find new friends, and who can he turn to for help if he can’t.
What if - like many - he’s slightly disabled...who’d make the effort to help him survive?
Who’d put their hand out…respond to his needs...and check now and then to make sure he’s alive?
Unless I can find me a super good friend...plus wisely adopt me a dog or a cat…
I ain’t that crazy about stickin’ around...at least not for long...if it comes down to that!
Thanks for reading,
Copyright © Mark Stellinga | Year Posted 2021