Roger the Lodger

On Saturday, Grandma was cursing the Almighty. Not a particularly unusual occurrence, of course. But this time she was reminded of some poetry, and her “God Almighty” turned into a mulling over of the phrase, “but it wasn’t the Almighty, who lifted her nighty…”

We spent some time trying to jog her memory for the rest of it, but to no avail.

On Sunday, Grandma was cursing the Almighty.  And this time, the half-remembered adage came more clearly: “…but it wasn’t the Almighty, who lifted her nightie – it was Roger the Lodger, the sod!”

Oh ho, Roger the Lodger! The sod! A google search came up with the rest of the dear limerick.

There was a young girl of Cape Cod 
Who thought all babies came from God, 
But ’twas not The Almighty 
Who lifted her nightie, 
But Roger the lodger, the sod!

Dementia wreaks havoc on the lives of those who suffer from it and those who try to manage it, but it has these moments of loveliness.  These scraps of a person’s history, that may otherwise be left in the recesses of memory as pointless information, float to the surface, clear and suddenly relevant.  Grandma detests looking at old photographs, or talking about “ancient history,” – partly because so many of the people in those memories are already gone, but also I think because she cannot recall things when she wants to.  But through her bawdy and sometimes poignant poetry I can see glimmers of her younger, cheekier self.  I have learnt to hang on to these bits and pieces, understanding them as precious mementos that perhaps I myself will begin muttering, when my capacity to make sense of the present is removed from me.  They are little spoken portraits that capture moments of humour and humanity.  Grandma’s ability to live life with independence and her idea of dignity is all but gone, but we were both reminded that her mind and spirit are still there – clouded and cobwebbed, but there.  And all thanks to Roger the lodger, the sod!



Filed under anecdotes

6 responses to “Roger the Lodger

  1. Mit

    Thank you for sharing this, it was a beautiful treasure at the end of a hunt begun when I was watching Carry On, Jack and trying to understand the references around a character named Roger. I guessed he might be Roger the lodger… And google (or the Almighty?) pointed me here. Just the thing to remind me of similar moments spent with my father on his journey.

    • Thanks for your comment, Mit. I’m really glad that it struck a chord with you and it’s always good to know that other people have these experiences and understand what it’s like to accompany a loved one into old age.

  2. pete

    Omg takes me back 50 years lol

  3. Roger King

    My wife for 56 years, has dementia. She keeps calling me “Roger the Lodger”. In the past I have heard shortened versions, but not the full one. I don’t know whether or not to be pleased to be the Lodger!

  4. Tanis Wright

    Thank you for this anecdote! My mother went into Continuing Care at a local hospital this year and after almost 3 decades of (unexplained) estrangement from her (at her insistence), I have finally been able to re-establish a relationship with her. One of my greatest joys has been reliving old memories through her and one of them was a reference made by her years ago to “Roger the (dodger) the sod!” When I brought that up to her yesterday, she reminisced about singing a song with fellow party-goers years ago, but she could only remember the last line. A net search brought me here and you have enabled me to fill in the blanks for her, which brought her (and me) much joy, indeed! Sincerest thanks for that!

  5. Daun Daly

    OMG! I never knew this version. We’re preparing for my brother’s memorial services…our dad used to Recite this poem to Roger. I wanted to put the poem on the memory book I’m creating, we ‘kids’ all remember only parts (in our 60’s now). However, dad would say (last sentence): ”twas Roger the dodger by golly’…but I can’t find the limerick with what rhymes with golly. Thanks for sharing…u will keep looking. Prayers to all who suffer the long and heart wrenching exit of those with dementia. Dad didn’t know who any of us were by the end of his journey here on earth. 🙏🏻

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