My Old Buddy Joe

Joe is an amalgamation of many veterans whom I have known over the years including of course our Dad: Robert Costello, Royal Engineers who served in France and Palestine in the 2nd World War. Robert is pictured between two friends Mick and Gus from Dundee REA.

What happened to Joe, my feisty old buddy
A decorated soldier no less
A wounded eagle so age defined
Sent back home to clear a space

Who had the right to make these choices
When back into homes old people were foisted
Without the necessary checks and balances
The risks were ignored with the consequent damages

And, in line with the prevailing guidance
Joe came home carrying the virus
Things soon changed, people were gone
Behind closed doors to be waited upon by ghosts with no faces,
Swishing sounds accompanied their paces

He thought of Jessie, fingers trailing ivory keys
And Willie’s tuba in the corner, polished but at peace
Mr. Jeffrey’s Elvis records awaiting collection
And Norman’s karaoke machine a treasured possession

Now joe has a cough and it’s harder to breathe
But his optimism is getting him through
He says he’s not ready for the pearly gates
And it’s not the time to say adieu“

“When Jessie gets better, we can all gather round
And sing again of the times that are past
Of our pals who were there through thick and through thin
And of our hopes that our friendships will last “

I’ve been asked to visit Joe for one last time
I see him through the window
The carer tries to talk to him but Joe is now in limbo
He is reaching for someone but is drifting away
What a pity his DCM can’t help him today

Shirley Costello Gibson 05.08.2020 copyright
DCM Distinguished Conduct Medal

Photo by Pixabay on

2 replies on “My Old Buddy Joe”

My Buddy Joe is a very moving poem of the forgotten ones, put away for someone else to tend. My mom who’s 98 lives in an assisted living facility attached to a skilled nursing facility. She has all her faculties and needs family connection especially during this Covid19 time. As her daughter, it’s my loving responsibility to stay in touch with her daily over 1100 miles away. I’m her connection to life outside, also an overseer of her health needs.
Unfortunately, ours is an exception to the rule for most other residents and/or patients. I know time will come for me to move to her house we manage and keep up for her to have her with us at her home in familiar surroundings till the end. My 2 brothers have other lives they have chosen.
I often recall a phrase that had been my montra, “Service Is The Rent You Pay For The Space You Occupy On This Earth,” only one of several versions.

Liked by 1 person

That was a very moving piece Nancy. I often wish that we’d had more time with our Mum but she died so soon after the diagnosis and operation. We only had time to say goodbye. Of course Dad was a different kettle of fish with his girl friend, his trips to the pub and his long weekends down to Ripon in Yorkshire for the Royal Engineers Association reunions. He was treated so well and with such respect from the younger veterans and indeed the young soldiers. Yes great memories.
I take it that you stay in touch with your Mum through Skype. Thank goodness for modern technology. It has been a life saver for so many people at this time. I also like your mantra Nancy.

Liked by 1 person

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