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Her Dying - a memory -

She had a stroke six weeks before
and slept downstairs
'So they could keep an eye on her
- my lovely grandmother, Elizabeth.
I would whisper
'Granny, are you alright?'
and be shushed out of the room.
On December 12th, 1961
she was dying.  They knelt around the bed
and said the Rosary.
May and Lizzie, their husbands and children,
cousins and neighbours, droning their prayers.
As she struggled to breathe:  loud then slow and slowing,
the candle flickered shadows on the wall.
Sad faces, some old and lined, anticipating
the arrival of the Monsignor - to give her Unction.
They hoped that she would live until he arrived.
'She had a good life - a long life' they said
'Eighty-Seven years'.
'But some people live to be a hundred!'
my thirteen year old self shouted back -
My mother and the nurse laid her out
on her big mahogany bed.
'The ritual gave me comfort'
Mam said later -
Best linens, starched and waiting
for this time - her habit - a dress especially made for death
Beads entwined in her dear fingers.
These preparations a ceremony of love and care
I wouldn't, couldn't look at her
They did -
I hated them for that.

Copyright © Liz Walsh | Year Posted 2012


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  1. Date: 12/6/2015 1:35:00 PM

    Liz, Enjoyed reading your poem today. LUV **SKAT**
  1. Date: 2/16/2012 6:39:00 PM

    Liz, I can see how you feel... i deny my family... thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts with us... always..pd
  1. Date: 1/17/2012 1:20:00 PM

    Liz, I find "viewings" of our lost loved ones repulsive. How much better it is to remember your grandmother as she was when alive. Six days after my father's stroke we were told there was no hope and his living will was read aloud. No choice but to pull the respirator. It must have been even harder to see your grandmother linger in this state for six weeks. My condolences on her passing, but this is a very powerful poem! Love, Carolyn