My youngest brother asked me to be his Confirmation sponsor this fall. I was honored that he asked me, however, when I learned that this involved the two of us doing a few hours of community service together, I have to admit my enthusiasm faded somewhat. At our parents' suggestion, we decided to volunteer at a nursing home near our house. Now I wasn't looking forward to this afternoon at the nursing home any more than my brother. But when I saw just how much he was dreading it, I steeled myself to have a better attitude at least outwardly, in the hopes that it might rub off on him a little.
We ended up having a good two or three hours at the home. We sorted and delivered mail to the residents and then we went and talked to a few of the residents in the dining room. We made a friend, Mr. Stephens, who was a hoot and loved talking to us. He was incredibly friendly and very Texan. It was sad to talk to him though because the longer we talked to him, the more we realized how his mind was going, even though he seemed fairly lucid and healthy, especially compared to some of the other residents. Today both of my brothers went back and played Bingo with some of the residents and Mr. Stephens recognized my youngest brother and was very glad to see him.
After that afternoon at the nursing home, I wrote this poem:
Will you still love me when---
I’m weathered and ashen and old?
Of course I’ll still love you. Till death do us part, remember?
Will you still love me when my memory starts to fade? And I can’t remember the order of the days of the week? Or where I was born?
I’ll still love you. We’ll help each other remember.
Will you love me when my body is feeble and I can’t keep the tremor out of my voice or fingers?
I’ll still love you. I’ll hold your hands and help keep you steady.
Will you still love me when I stop caring what I look like? When my clothes are stained and I wear a navy sweatshirt with black sweat pants and brown shoes?
Yes. I’ll still love you.
And when I begin to lose control of my body? And I smell of flatulence and urine? Will you really still love me?
Even then, I will still love you.
What about when my mouth grows stubbly and scratches your lips when you kiss me? Will you still love me then?
Of course, I’ll still love you. I’ll even still kiss you.
And when I’m cold all the time and even our thickest blankets and you can’t keep me warm? Will you still love me?
Even then, I’ll still love you. And I’ll never stop trying to keep you warm.