dementia · elderly · family · poetry · Writing

The Grandmother’s New Pants

A friend who is helping care for an elderly relative told me about one evening when she went to visit her aunt and she found her wearing no pants.  It reminded me of a poem I had written when my mother did something similar.

Here’s my poem:


My mother had no pants on
When she came down the stairs.
The funny thing about it was
It seemed she didn’t care.

The Emperor’s New Clothes became
The Grandmother’s New Pants –
Invisible clothes or missing –
I took another glance.

My children both politely
Turned their backs to her.
Modesty would dictate
Their behavior be demure.

“Mom, you need some pants on!”
“I know,” was all she said.
She settled in the kitchen,
Looking to be fed.

“Go put some pants on now,”
I commanded best I could.
“I will,” she said, but sat there,
So I didn’t think she would.

My father finally got her
To get up and find some pants.
I thought (but didn’t do)
A little happy dance.

Sometimes I let my toddlers
Run around with legs quite bare.
A child in only diapers
Would never get a stare.

But a grannie wearing panties,
Well, that’s a different sight.
Embarrassing for all involved —
It simply isn’t right.

So, help me, Lord, to understand
What is it I should do
When my mother comes down pantless
And doesn’t seem to have a clue.

It took some work for me to find the poem for my friend. I’ve started and stopped a number of blogs under various names.

Once I went through and started systematically deleting everything I had ever written — a self-inflicted devastation.

A lot of my writing is lost forever.


Honestly, who cares? They’re just words.

I console myself with that fact that far more important words — words written by Jesus Himself in the dirt (John 8)  — are forever gone.

Yesterday, on a forum, someone asked this question: “…what are the favorite blog posts you have written? Perhaps not the ones that have generated the most traffic, though it could be that, but the ones that reveal you.”

Believe it or not, I thought of this little poem. Actually, I thought of a few little poems I’ve written. I still can’t find one of them.

But when words and life are hard, poetry — dumb little rhyming poems — give a structure and a lightness to my thoughts.

Does that happen to anyone else?

3 thoughts on “The Grandmother’s New Pants

  1. love this poem, you expressed a difficult situation with humor and poignancy. those of us who have cared for someone with dementia can certainly relate.

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