Getting to Know You: A Poem

Alicia Fry

Editor’s Note: We are happy to share with our readers yet another poem in celebration of Social Work Month by NASW-NYC member, Alicia Fry.  To learn about how you or your agency can celebrate the wonderful work you do this month, click here.


This poem was inspired by all of the dedicated gerontological social workers and our  amazing clients.

First, I knew you by your diseases.
You were arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and spinal stenosis,
Hypertension, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
You were laugh lines and liver spots,
Wrinkles and resignation.
You were everything I dreaded.

Next, I knew you by your devices.
You were four-pronged canes and walkers, pacemakers and grab bars.
You were hearing aids and bifocals, commodes and large-size diapers.
You were me in forty years.

Then, I knew you by your services.
You were Meals on Wheels and home care, Access-a-Ride and Medicaid.
You were client, recipient, patient.
Disabled, impaired, dependent, incontinent.
You were loss, despair, and death.

I came to know you by your experiences.
You were Ralph, the World War II vet, and Pearl who marched with Dr. King.
You were Minnie the milliner, and Peter the artist.
You were Sarah, post-Auschwitz, with a number tattooed on your forearm.
You were my Grandpa, my Nana, my Great Uncle Henry.
You were every old person I ever loved.

Now, I know you by your essences.
You are survivor, sojourner, and troubadour.
Sweetheart and scholar, lover and leader, teacher and timekeeper.
You are old faded photos, and diary-pressed flowers,
Mothballs and memories, mistakes and misgivings.
You are dreams deferred, and dreams realized.
You are yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
You are you, you are us, you are me.


Alicia Fry, LMSW, earned her BA and MSW from the University atAlbany.  She is currently the Case Management Supervisor for Services Now for Adult Persons (SNAP).  She is a SIFI-certified Field Instructor and a Gerontological Social Work Practice Fellow who has co-authored a symposium proposal for the NASW National Conference in Washington, DC entitled: “Empowering the Empowerers: The Strategic Use of Supervision in Gerontological Social Work”.  Ms. Fry is a member of the Geriatric Mental Health Alliance, serves on the Queens Elder Abuse Task Force, leads a LMSW Study Group, and is an active member of the NASW-NYC Chapter, serving on the PACE and Gerontological Social Work Steering Committees in addition to being a 2012 candidate for Board Member-at-Large and Delegate Assembly.

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