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Monday, June 23, 2014

Earrings (back story to a poem)

Some time after Andrew died, I found a frustrated little journal entry in one of his notebooks, wondering how he was going to manage to get $30 to buy me some earrings.

I remembered a time when he complained about not having access to money. By then he was so physically incapacitated that he couldn't go out without me, and although his Alzheimer's was mild, I had taken over the financial management. He had been making some potentially disastrous financial decisions until I did, getting us into situations I had to rescue us from.

I tried to reassure him that it was still our money, and if there was anything he needed or wanted, I'd get it for him. But he just became evasive when I asked what he needed money for. Pretty dumb of me! It was coming up to Christmas, and of course he wanted to surprise me. Instead, that year I bought Christmas presents we could enjoy together, with his agreement. Food. DVDs. I guess he decided to settle for that, as he couldn't figure out a way around his dilemma.

I wonder, had I admired some earrings somewhere while in his company? Had he seen some online or in a local shop that he fancied for me? He had very good taste, and bought me some lovely jewellery over the years, albeit suited to our modest budget. The brief journal entry was specific about the price, but didn't describe the earrings at all.

There came a time when I wanted some earrings to go with a particular bracelet and pendant. I chose some zircon studs, a little under $30, and told myself they were my present from Andrew, just a bit late.

During our life together, from when we were courting, he loved to present me with big bunches of red roses. After he became incapacitated, he would sometimes say to me when I went shopping, "Buy yourself some roses." Which I did, as a gift from him. He was happy enough, in that circumstance, to know it was our money, and to delegate the task to me. I guess that was because there was no surprise involved.

Occasionally I still buy myself roses, remembering how he liked to give them to me. Recently I came across some sweet little earrings carved in the shape of red roses. They were affordable. I had a fantasy that he had nudged me in that direction, to notice them. Of course I bought them. Again, I told myself they were from him. Now I always have that gift of red roses.

Another journal entry expressed his readiness to go on to the next life and see his father and brother again. He asked God to look after me when he was gone.


These things are all strands in my poem, Love's Winter, which doesn't explain them. The poem felt complete as it is, albeit a trifle mysterious. When I tried to add more clarity, it became clunky.

Some readers who are aware of my widowhood have understood what the poem is about. Others have, naturally enough, interpreted it differently. That doesn't matter in terms of the poem, but some also read it (correctly) as autobiographical and attach their suppositions to me and, by association, to Andrew.

Perhaps that doesn't really matter either. But it's unfair, although unintentionally, so I thought a bit of back story wouldn't go astray.


  1. I love the back story, Rosemary. How wonderful that he wrote down things like this that extend the conversations you had--and help you to create lovely poems that meet other people's needs as well.

    1. Susan, what a lovely, understanding comment! Thank you so much.

  2. Another commenter mentioned that she likes to read your poems out loud. This one speaks through time and it will continue to speak to your love, who I'm sure is listening.


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