Once we were special — a poem

6 girls in plaits, slacks and hand-knitted jerseys

6 girls in plaits, slacks and hand-knitted jerseys

Once we were special because we were six
six little girls all dressed the same
all funny and noisy and naughty and cute.
Now we are special because we are
six old women all blessed the same
all talky and thinky and lucky and winky
and still THANK YOU GOD alive and thriving
in our seventies and eighties.
How do I dare even think those words
when frailty is overdue
and death is knocking at the house next door?
Before you even read this page
one of the sisters may be dead
but what would I write instead?
Meantime being lively at our stage
in this time of the plentiful unyoung
is not so special, it’s almost a norm
for some lucky ones born in the olden days
of food in the garden and school that was free
and no need for words like “organic”
and two complementary lifestyle rules:
be kind and have adventures.

PS I never know which lines in a poem really work with readers. I only know which lines work for me. Would like to know what you started thinking about…

Image and poem and voice by Rachel McAlpine, CC BY 2.0: that means please do share them, but always attribute them to me. Thanks!

64 thoughts on “Once we were special — a poem

  1. agshap says:

    Wish there was a “love” button instead of just “like”…what a beautiful poem and so true. When I think of what children go through these days, with their sanitized life….I am glad I was born ages ago.

    1. Thank you so much for reposting this one: much appreciated

    2. lisakunk says:

      Perfect sentiment. I agree. This is wonderful.

  2. agshap says:

    Reblogged this on Beauty, Books & Breath and commented:
    What a heartwarming blog . Hope you enjoy this reblog..
    Image and poem and voice by Rachel McAlpine,

  3. Rhona says:

    Fabulous photo. You should hold a contest to pick out which one is you!

    1. Aha… your guess?

  4. Paula Light says:

    I love it! I guess 3rd from the left. 🙂

    1. Close but no cigar

  5. “all talky and thinky and lucky and winky”


    1. No reason to stop that either!

  6. Wildpeak says:

    Awesome blog…

    1. Thank you so much.

  7. Rainee says:

    How do I dare even think those words
    when frailty is overdue
    and death is knocking at the house next door?

    These words spoke to me due to friends, family and neighbours untimely passing’…

    1. I am so scared of feeling smug when life depends so much on sheer luck.

  8. Dan Antion says:

    Continue to cherish your time together. The picture is so cute, and you words bring back fond memories of simpler times.

    1. I am so glad the feeling spreads.

  9. Bernadette says:

    Rachel, it is so special to listen to your voice reading your poetry. It added another lovely dimension to your words and photo which made me smile.

    1. Thanks Bernadette! I am never sure which file type is most widely accessible.

  10. Bernadette says:

    Reblogged this on Haddon Musings and commented:
    Listen to Rachel read her poetry. It is a treat.

    1. Triple thanks for sharing with your community!

      1. Bernadette says:

        Your very welcome. I so enjoyed listening to you read your words.

  11. This is lovely! I love the reminder of simplicity years ago and how far we’ve come from it.

    1. I imagine now our lives are also simple but in ways that are hard for us to see.

  12. srbottch says:


    1. It fits with your tagline.

  13. Osyth says:

    With thanks to Bernadette for guiding me here, I want to acknowledge the plethora of emotions I feel reading this piece. So much happy, no regret just gratitude. It is a powerful reminder but written with the lightest touch. If I had to pick one line it would be this *How do I dare even think those words, when frailty is overdue and Death is knocking at the house next door?* …. thank you for a wonderful poem that I would like to share, if I may on my FaceBook page, newly revamped to showcase the work of other bloggers whose work resonates at any given moment 😊

    1. Osyth, I would be honoured. I have just followed your own delightful blog. I like your readers too.

      1. Osyth says:

        Goody! That’s a win for those that engage with the page. My readers are wonderful … I am privileged to have such a good clutch. And I am certain I will find much to thrill me in yours when I get to giving your blog proper time 🙂

  14. Ally Bean says:

    “two complementary lifestyle rules: be kind and have adventures.”

    Such a wonderful line. This is exactly what my childhood was about. No contradictory mixed messages back then. Just simple advice about how to live your life, in the wonderful world that was.

    1. Weren’t we lucky?

  15. What a great picture. I think of your poor mother, trying to raise 6 girls!

    1. She had some excellent systems, and my big sister Jill helped in so many ways. A family of six seemed normal in those days. Well, almost.

    2. And our Dad was a modern dad, sharing the load.

  16. This is so beautiful. I came over from Bernadette’s’ and I’m so glad she shared. I don’t have sisters, but what a joy siblings are in general. Thanks for the smile. <3

    1. Welcome!

  17. What a beautiful photograph and poem! Like another commenter, I identified you as third from left. As that’s wrong I’ll go fourth from left. Do I get a cigar?

    1. Indeed you do. Being in the middle has advantages…

  18. delphini510 says:

    What a wonderful photo, six happy girl all looking so alike. Healthy and smiley. A treasure indeed.
    I do love your poem ” once we were special” ….and still are.
    I haven’t tried to pick out one line as they just seem to sing along with such beautiful rhythm.

    I also thank Bernadette for reblogging this as I hadn’t come across you before.
    ~ miriam

    1. Thank you Miriam! Bernadette is a WordPress champion, and I thank her too.

  19. Over from Bernadette’s and clearly this is where I needed to be. I’ve been surrounded by death and cancer lately. I needed this perspective. Thank you. And very cool that you added your reading. – New follower. 🙂

    1. I am encouraged by your words. Thank you!

  20. Leslie says:


  21. Annika Perry says:

    Absolutely wonderful, Rachel… full of light and joy, capturing the fun essence of childhood across a lifetime – ultimately celebrating the lives of all six sisters! You have a lovely playful way of writing, that skips along and this really comes Across in your accomplished reading. I love the photo too … so sweet and precious. A delight to read this and so happy Bernadette shared your post and led me here!

    1. Well, Annika, This is my poem-writing time of day, but instead I am overwhelmed by a group embrace. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I do love Bernadette’s community,

  22. Old age has its own special blessing. One has so much more to remember. I prefer your word “unyoung”. At 90 I’m still getting the hang of it.

    1. Ah. I hear you!

  23. Lovely! <3

  24. I loved this, beginning with the very intriguing title! What a gift, Rachel!

    1. Thank you, Diane! I know you understand the sheer luck of being born at a certain time and place.

  25. Robyn Haynes says:

    I have two sisters and feel so fortunate. For you, the pleasure is multi-fold! Some lovely expressions in this poem which others have already remarked upon. Looking forward to more from you Rachel.

    1. Thank you Robyn. I’m not sure how long I can keep this up… but it’s good to have a challenge.

  26. Robyn Haynes says:

    Always. You have to keep going! You’re my inspiration!

    1. Well then, I must! As you’ll see, I’ll have a whole month to work on these poems very soon.

      1. Robyn Haynes says:


      2. I just posted some news…

  27. Aunt Beulah says:

    I loved this line: six old women all blessed the same all talky and thinky and lucky and winky” because it delighted me and reminded me of being with my two sisters and four sisters-in-law.

    1. Oh that is perfect!

  28. Joared says:

    Only 2 lifestyle rules resonated with me, thinking of a time when life seemed so much more simple — we needed only to be kind and seek adventure to have a fulfilling life.

    1. You don’t think they still suffice?

  29. Really enjoy your family stories, but wish I could get a response from my one and only sister.

    1. I am so sorry to hear this. Losing contact with a sister seems very hard.

  30. Lovely memories, it made me think of my own brothers and sisters. I’m one of five, the oldest sadly gone too soon, the rest of us muddling along still. They were simpler times, wonderful times and I wouldn’t change a thing. Happy to be a bit long in the tooth.

    1. That is so rewarding for me to read. Thank you.

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