monochrome photo of an old man

My Husband of So Many Years

I thought that my grandma wrote this poem for my papa, but I have recently been informed that I was incorrect. The poem was actually written by a woman named Elise Maclay, and published in a book called Green Winter: Celebrations of Old Age. A lovely reader named Shauna let me know that I didn’t have it properly credited, so I’m updating that now!

My grandma, Barbara Joyce, did create a beautiful piece of art with that poem amidst a hand-painted floral border, though. She had it framed and gave it to my papa sometime before I was born, or maybe when I was really little. I love it, and think it’s one of the most poignant things my grandma ever created. From what I understand, though, my papa wasn’t so keen on it. I don’t think he appreciated being reminded of his senior citizen status! :) I wonder if he knew that she didn’t write it? He might have liked it more if he knew it wasn’t specifically about him, I dunno. Regardless, my grandparents were madly in love with one another until they died, and their relationship is something that I hope to find for myself someday. They bitched and bickered almost every single day and I think their love grew with every hour together.

How good he is,
My husband of so many years.
Tears come to my eyes,
When I see how crepey his neck has become.
How bravely he tries to straighten up.
Once his jaw was hard and he stood tall
With no effort;
It is as if his body had been sabotaged
One dark night
By some unseen enemy.
I know he feels that way.
Yet, when I look at him today,
I feel far more tender toward him
Thank I ever did when he was young and strong
And seemingly invulnerable.
O my dear old friend-lover,
Time-ravaged, fellow-traveling,
Camouflaged boy.
Can it help you to know,
Can it help you to hear,
That not only as you were but as you are
You are to me
Inexpressibly dear.

-Elise Maclay

My favorite part is when she describes him as her “dear old friend-lover, time-ravaged, fellow-traveling, camouflaged boy”. RIP Papa and Grandma, I love you and miss you!

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