It has been a long held belief of mine that this is how it should be.
Gordon had been at Sunnyvale for close to seven years.
He didn’t mix, he didn’t chat, and staff there all held fears
that he was slowly declining, getting frail, fading away.
Becoming more introverted and reclusive every day.
He didn’t fancy bridge or chess and bingo left him cold,
they never saw him read a book or newspaper I’m told.
His big TV screen silent sat, no news flashed on its screen.
He merely sat and rocked and watched, from eyes with watery sheen.
The day trips that they took each week never tempted him out.
Club trips for shows and pokies, well they went but without doubt
Gordon didn’t – he just took himself outside to the verandah
to sit and rock and maybe dream about his wife Miranda.
One day Mrs McDonald’s farm came out to Sunnyvale
bringing the little animals, piglets and calves and quail.
Ducks, chickens, goats and little lambs – a Shetland and her foal
and suddenly the game was on and Gordon shot a goal.
He leaped out of the rocking chair – well almost, so it seemed
and shuffled to the animal pen, and tears down his face streamed.
He bent to lift a tiny lamb, cradled it to his breast
and said to the nurse standing near –“ Merino’s are the best.
I used to raise this breed myself, but that was long ago
when I was a much younger bloke and fitter then I know.
We had a place just out of town that we called Shiralee
Six thousand acres more or less and each one known to me.
We ran three thousand sheep out there, and bred some fine fat lambs
and cut fine wool most years you know. Were all happy as clams.
My boys grew up and learnt to ride and shear and run a farm
but then my dear wife became ill – we lost our good luck charm.
We carried on for quite a while, but ‘twas never the same.
The boys gave up and moved away – said it was a mug’s game
but I never held to that view, the land was good to me.
You just have to ride hard times out till she comes good you see.
At seventy I pulled the pin and that’s why I am here
My boys insisted that I sell, it was their constant fear
I’d take a fall and perish somewhere out there on my own,
unfound until it was too late – a fate not unbeknown.
And now I languish here alone, no sheep, no cows, no dogs.
To me it’s alien territory devoid of birds and frogs.
Horizons here you cannot see, just endless rooves and wires
and never see the clouds push up behind hills into spires.
I never smell the scent of gums or wattle on the breeze
and can’t abide the temperate air – when fresh air’s what I need.
I feel entrapped in one small room, can’t stand the silly chatter.
Just wish that I could once again see raindrops dry dust spatter.
But here right now I’m happy with this young one in my arms.
Look at those gold eyes watching you – she’s full of girly charms.
And Mamma there – she has no fear of me because she knows
I hold her babe’s life precious. To me trust she bestows.”
He placed the little lamb down, and caressed the old ewes head
with hands work worn yet gentle and I thought on what he’d said.
He wandered over to the rail and gave the mare a pat
then crouched and crooned to her small foal. The shadow from his hat
in darkness hid his withered cheek but I saw a tear fall
and trickle cross the wrinkled skin of this man gaunt and tall.
Then like a miracle a thought sprung right into my head,
one never been considered. A solution had been bred.
At Sunnyvale these days the grass is clipped. It’s short and neat
and that’s thanks to our lawnmowers, who each have four small feet.
Our kitchens turn out dishes for our residents delight
and the eggs are from our own chooks – Gordon feeds them every night.
Our Border Collie Nellie and our Blue Heeler Ruff Red
are under Gordon’s personal care they muster to the shed
each night the chooks and sheep, ensuring they are safe from harm
and warm and quite protected inside our brand new barn.
Two cats reside at Sunnyvale so mice are not a worry,
sometimes you find them on a bed curled up, no rush or hurry
as a resident sits stroking them with shaking wrinkled hand
and tells them they are beautiful, a fact they understand.
And Gordon – will you look at him – there’s purpose in his stride.
A smile now wreathes his weathered face, he fairly bursts with pride
as he shows visitors the sheep, Nell’s pups and twenty chooks.
Animal therapy should be featured in every aged care book.
Maureen Clifford © 07/12
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To the home of a friend the way is never long
the welcome is always warm and the Billy always on.