I am no poet but this is what I once jotted down one night when thoughts of Alzheimer’s stopped me from falling asleep.
Your voice is stilled, your smile has gone
Memories comfort me and linger on.
Knowing you was a gift, a treasure
Loving you gave me much pleasure.
Implausible that the people you knew
Had become like absolute strangers to you.
You managed to play a fair game of bridge
Yet sometimes stacked crockery in the fridge.
I searched for signs of the man I once knew
So sad it was, as there were precious few.
Living day to day with your dementia
Felt like being married to you in absentia.
Our lives together went askew
And only your smile remained part of you.
The daily sharing in active living
Very soon evolved into daily care-giving.
The agenda you once had was long gone
And hours of inactivity stretched on and on …
There were many times when things were normal
Your behavior acceptable, and even formal.
And it seemed to me that in some strange way
Your mind was working like in the old days.
As a care-giver I did my very best
Whatever I could to pass this hard test
I used lots of patience and dedication
Even while in the midst of frustration
My dear, you knew that something was wrong
As you languished through days puzzling and long.
There was heartbreak in your plaintive plea
When you asked repeatedly; “What’s happened to me?”
Oddly it seemed that in some strange way
You were working on projects from former days.
Disconnected thoughts came out in conversation
Defying any attempt at clarification.
Stamps, coins and books once occupied you for hours.
You derived pleasure from music, plays and flowers.
Having no agenda, there was no way
To project any interest for the following day.
You didn’t deserve Alzheimer’s in your life
You helped so many others in times of strife.
“Why our Dad?” the children and grandchildren asked.
But, to reply to that was an impossible task.
Physicians described dementia to the letter
But living beside it describes it better.
A support group was helpful, people were kind
They all knew what happened to your mind.
Love and patience were the two ingredients that worked best in this situation and, taking one day at a time.