The Old Woman Who Has Come to Live with Me


I wake up every morning and there is an old woman in my bed.

She aches and when she stands beside the mattress, she’s unsteady.

Feet that ran after small children in the grocery store,

Hips that held a toddler and rocked wildly in love-making are sore now

From standing up half-asleep

Stumbling to the bathroom

Plopping down, knees stiff, to pee.

Thank God I can still pee.

There’s an old woman in my kitchen.

She doesn’t climb on the counter anymore to reach the higher shelves

But uses a proper footstool,

Reminding herself that some Sunday afternoon she must move

the heavier bowls to the lower shelves and

put the birthday candles and party hats at the top.

The things she doesn’t use very much at the top.

Parties becoming out of reach.

Thank God I can still bake a cake.

There’s an old woman in my yard.

Who decides not to mow for another week because it’s gotten hard.

She’s out of breath so quickly, heart pounding

And the weed eater droops in her arms and slices through the dried skin on her boney ankles

and leaves cuts – brilliant red and bloody – on ankles that used to arch over sexy high heels

or tap her foot in impatience when a board meeting went too long.

Thank God I can still walk.

There’s an old woman in my mirror.

Long dark hair with luxurious curls are replaced by silver waves and white, white strands

That don’t relax. Her hair is more brittle, dry.

Her eyes have become small, surrounding by layers of loose skin and tiny moles.

Dark circles around them. The window to the soul is cracked and peeling.

Thank God I can still see.

There’s an old woman in my head, where passion used to flame,

Sarcastic comebacks crackled and intellectual barbs were sharp

And I knew I was right and insisted on my own way,

Where success once lived and achievement mattered.

There’s an old woman in my head where deep resentments have been bathed

in forgiveness and understanding.

Where coming in first doesn’t matter over putting others first.

Where praying comes like breathing and my loved ones come alive in memories but don’t come to visit.

Thank God I can still remember.

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9 thoughts on “The Old Woman Who Has Come to Live with Me

  1. Gail Bones says:

    Made me cry!!

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Beautifully said. Thank you, Francine

  3. kathleen smith says:

    Beautifully written Francine! You speak for all of us.

  4. Francine, what a beautiful poem. Love it and love you.

  5. davidcraney says:

    Beautiful, Fran. I love the last part about bathed in forgiveness, and prayer comes like breathing. Beautiful. I read the other day that passage from “As You Like It” about seasons of life (“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…”) — last section: “Last scene of all, that ends this strange and eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.” YOU’RE NOT THERE!!! Thank God.

  6. aaronfortner says:

    wow, good one mom! you’re such a good writer. I like how artful and emotional your writing is. Parties out of reach – so sad 😦 Mowing the lawn difficult, so sad. I’m sorry, mommy.

    I like the last part about having forgiveness & understanding. I thought you were going to end the last paragraph with “Thank God I’m getting old” or something, which seems very poetic and deep.

    I’ll try to come home this summer.

    @JessePhillips // 404.513.9980 //

    • That would have made a good ending, but not really able to bring myself to that place. I have AWESOME memories of our lives together as a family. I would love to see you and meet Annabelle in Boston or Maine in the fall. So, get your calendars ready early! Love you.

  7. Beautiful. Loved it. And your thankful heart. God bless you, Francine!

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