Caregifted recipient and award-winning poet Barbara Crooker had one of her poems read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer's Almanac on 12 August, 2014.
For the honor, Keillor could not have selected a more fitting summer poem than “The Fifties”. However, the poem takes on an entirely new dimension after you learn a little about the poet and her life as a long term caregiver.
For Barbara and her husband David, the normal demands of raising a family of five were complicated by the challenge of providing nearly three decades of 24/7 care, a special diet, daily med sets with multiple supplements, and ongoing behavior modification for their autistic son whose social and language skills are severely hampered. Now, as they reach the age when most couples can share time together, their nest will never be empty. They expect their son to be home with them until they become incapacitated themselves. As Barbara puts it, the opportunity “…to recharge our “couple” batteries…” at a Caregifted retreat was especially appreciated. She says, “In a few years, we might not be able to undertake a trip like this.”
Here is a sample of Barbara’s day-to-day life, from a recent submission published by the blog Mothering Kids With Special Needs:
Enjoy Barbara’s poem, “The Fifties”, reprinted with permission below, or better yet click here to listen to Garrison Keillor read it at the Writer’s Almanac.
We spent those stifling endless summer afternoons
on hot front porches, cutting paper dolls from Sears
catalogs, making up our own ideal families
complete with large appliances
and an all-occasion wardrobe with fold-down
paper tabs. Sometimes we left crayons
on the cement landing, just to watch them melt.
We followed the shade around the house.
Time was a jarful of pennies, too hot
to spend, stretching long and sticky,
a brick of Bonomo's Turkish Taffy.
Tomorrow'd be more of the same,
ending with softball or kickball,
then hide and seek in the mosquitoey dark.
Fireflies, like connect-the-dots or find-the-hidden-
words, rose and glowed, winked on and off,
their cool fires coded signals
of longing and love
that we would one day
learn to speak.
"The Fifties" by Barbara Crooker, from Radiance. © Word Press, 2005.
About Barbara Crooker
Barbara Crooker’s books of poetry are Radiance, winner of the Word Press First Book Award and finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance, winner of the Paterson Award for Literary Excellence; More; andGold. She was a finalist for the 2012 Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize, and her work appears in The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Barbara is the mother of a 29-year-old son with autism who lives with her at home. Learn more at www.barbaracrooker.com