The following is a poem written almost 18 years ago by my Aunt Okie (link to her poetry blog: “94 and Still Writing” ) to my own mother, Okie’s sister Kay, on Kay’s 75th birthday. There are 3 sisters: Esther is now 97, Okie is now 94 and Kay is now 92. (photo taken August, 2011 Left to right: Okie: author of the poem, Esther, Kay)
The 3 Carleton sisters grew up on a farm in New Hampshire. In this poem, Esther is referred to by her family nickname, “Digger”, Kay is referred to by her family nickname “Funny” (her other name was “Baby” ) and Okie, whose real name is Daisy, is called Okie.(born in Okanogan, WA)
click on image to enlarge, for easier reading or click to open pdf file: They say we are old…
Link to the “Chieftan” poem…and Kay’s/Okie’s variation: “Sisters, Sisters, let us be, friends forever ’til the sea, Gather waters, floods the land, Sisters, sisters take my hand”
Explanations: Esther, Okie and Kay’s father, Frank Carleton, drove them to school in a horse drawn wagon or sleigh. Nellie and Jill were the horses.(or maybe Nellie was a horse and Jill was the dog?) They had neither electricity nor running water in their home. They had constant outdoor adventures on the farm…using imagination, playfulness, ingenuity and extremely high energy!!
Okie and Kay continued to be very athletically active well into their 80’s. In their 60’s and 70’s, they went down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, on Elderhostels to Fairbanks Alaska, (and Kay went to 50 or 60 more…usually hiking/canoeing/rafting/skiing… to various places in the world), did a week long Elderhostel winter Outward Bound survival week on the coast of Maine (ice climbing, sleeping outdoors in the snow in tents, backpacking, pulling supplies on toboggans, overnight solo etc)
The “pecking order” refers to Okie being the older sister and Kay being younger…Kay would be sent ahead to break a trail on their dozens of cross country skiing hikes….part of the pecking order.
Currently: Kay, Kathy/PocketPerspectives’ mother, is recovering from one broken leg/hip, broken in April and then the other leg/hip broken in June. She had rods put in each leg and is now happily back in her lovely room, and lovingly taken care of, at Peabody Home. Okie lives at a different assisted care facility, about 3 miles away from Kay……and is busy with a writing group, current events classes, TaiChi, and her beloved Smithsonian and National Geographic Magazines. Esther, another writer, lives with one of her daughters about 30 minutes away from Kay and Okie.
There is a newish blog with a few of Okie’s poems (many more to be added) at the blog listed on the right blogroll: “94 and Still Writing” There is also another of Okie’s poems on this Pocket Perspectives blog; “20 Steps Down the Hall”
8/19 Update: I’m visiting my mother and Okie for a few days…I just showed Okie her poems on her own blog a few hours ago…she was clearly impressed….at a loss for words…especially that people from many places had read her poems and appreciated them...she had my husband take a picture of the 2 of us….Okie and me…in.front of the monitor with her poems on there….and really was pleased. I might add that photo to her blog when I get better internet connections,