My 91 year old mother-in-law lies in a Stroke Rehab Unit at the moment.  Three years ago she was ballroom dancing and doing countryside walks.  Five years ago she was playing tennis.  Yesterday was her birthday.  She is a shell of who she used to be.


A student nurse feeds Rosie a meal she didn’t choose

But Rosie’s thoughts are far away; she’s at The Moulin Rouge.

A chorus girl and dancer, bare breasted on the stage

And singling out a gentleman to supplement her wage.


The nurse is getting tetchy, she’s new upon the ward;

Rosie isn’t eating; the nurse is getting bored.

“She’s just a daft old woman” she’s thinking to herself

But Rosie’s life’s behind dull eyes; the nurse is in good health.


And Rosie’s now on duty puzzling codes at Bletchley Park

Of which she’s never spoken on work considered “dark”.

Then later years at Chequers; she’s now playing through her mind

Her role beyond the day job helping Harold to unwind.


The nurse clears up uneaten food and finishes her tasks

She doesn’t see behind those eyes; the nurse will never ask.

And moves on to the next bed where Ethel is asleep

She says, “Wake up now Rosie”; Ethel starts to weep.


But Rosie knows her span is through, there’s not much left to save

The untold stories of a life she’ll take into her grave.




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John Coopey

Thu 19th Jan 2023 08:16

Rosie is fictitious, Julie. As for my mother-in-law, she has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t speak at all.

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julie callaghan

Wed 18th Jan 2023 19:25

😢 but Rosie has you to tell her untold stories.

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John Coopey

Mon 16th Jan 2023 19:08

Thanks for your thoughts, Stephen and MC.
I regret painting such a negative picture of the nurse. The staff at the hospitals my mother-in-law has been in have all been rushed off their feet but marvellous.
And thanks for the Like, Helene and Hugh.

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M.C. Newberry

Mon 16th Jan 2023 18:06

Reminds me of a lady I recall visiting a pub I used who was
once a "Gaiety Girl" in C.B. Cochran's Music Hall Revues.
With a twinkle in her eye, she'd hold out her glass for a refill of
G and T, still immaculately coiffured and attired in her 80s.
She was mugged for her handbag in a nearby street and never
properly recovered.

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Stephen Gospage

Mon 16th Jan 2023 17:24

A brilliant piece of verse, John. It's extraordinary how we can create wonder of out personal sadness. Through my tears, it takes me back a few years to seeing my mum in the same state. Thanks a lot for this one.

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John Coopey

Mon 16th Jan 2023 10:01

No-one does, Graham. Until they get there. And then we all want another 5 minutes.
And thanks for the Likes, Frederick and Helene.

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Graham Sherwood

Sun 15th Jan 2023 21:21

A poem for our time John. I don't want to get that old.

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