I worked for the Visiting Nurse Association as a Home Health Aide in Santa Cruz California back in 1991. I enjoyed helping the elderly, sick and crippled. I comforted them and attended to their simple needs of washing, food and medicine. I loved their stories they shared. Most of my patients were in their 90s and their lifetimes were filled with a richness that I yearned for. They shared their stores with me.
I will share a story of Mary. She was alone in her parents’ home. A beautiful Victorian home near the shores of Santa Cruz. Only one room was used for Mary. All the other rooms, which were many, were closed off. The stairs that went to her room were something out of the novel Gone with The Wind. And to the right of these majestic stairs was a giant Ballroom with a crystal chandelier where Mary told me her stories. In the room where she lived was a single bed and a small bathroom with bath. On the wall was a painting of a lovely sailing ship. The painting was of her father’s ship. It was a family ship. She told me that she came from a sea family. It was a merchant family business.
As the times changed her family and Mary took to living on the land. She was born and raised on a ship. She knew the ocean well. Standing on ground was difficult for her as a young lady. Eventually she married. Santa Cruz was a cowboy town at the time. She told me one night when her husband made his usual advantages towards her. She declined and fell asleep. He went off to the bars to sleep with a prostitute. He gave Mary gonorrhea and after that she couldn’t have any children. It took some time but she forgave him.
This is a poem about Mary and our walk to her special place. She told me that the wild animals that lived there sometimes would pop up in her toilet. Small rats, squirrels and lizards would sometimes appear. It did not look all that bad to me. Yet, I can only imagine how it once was.
Mary, We Call You Near
We walked our way To the stream Down a short Wood’d green. Marking our way Me with my little red hat Mary with her special cane To a faerie glen Perchance we glance To see one of ‘em- Of course, Mary Would be reciting A lit’bit of Kipling’s. Arriving then I sat upon The concrete tunnel there- Mary stood proudly Above my stare A lassie quite young That only time Be’a steal’n years from. A stream did run here Once very free Now the community has grown A lot of concrete Be surrounding The stream’s old home Controlling the flow Which was once surely More freely flow’n- Now the stream runs Past wood’d green And homes to the ocean shore. Mary and I listen’d To the green trickling Of the eternal water go I looked up to see Mary’s face a shine’n Like the sun Full of wisdom and love Lots of hopeful youth too.
old Irish Drinking Song…