Monthly Archives: September 2015

Alzheimers’ Life

I deal with grief right now – in a real way.
People talk to me now about death – in a real way.
This conversation reflects gritty understanding that living on without your loved one cannot be assumed as “easy” in any way.

One of my “followers” on this blog is dealing with a parent who is suffering from alzheimers.  My dad died from this disease in 1990. He and I became familiar strangers over a period of years and  I drafted a poem the Thanksgiving before his death on December 22, 1990 during a somber period of heartbreak.

This poem was later published in the Alzheimers Society Newsletter.

 Alzheimers’ Lament

 Could it be, that is you
So thin a shape,
Sitting tied to a chair,
Bare feet on the floor,
Gown to your waist,
Diaper showing?

Is it the blankness of your stare,
Your gaping mouth empty of teeth,
Hands feeling seamlines,
Whiskers stabbing,
Dry skin scaling,
That makes me wonder?

There are no questions forthcoming,
No jokes laughed away,
No conversation,
Now only silent presence between us.
Love is between us.
No sharing now – – – only people in a room – – –
With love.

Piece by piece the life flows
Back to the place from which it came
Eighty years ago.
But – – – oh – – -the aching,
To see such a light fade to nothing.
So slowly it goes, almost unseen,
Until, all added together, nothing is left
And the light will be out.

Remember – – -I must.
In my heart, the light remains,
The man is strong, smiling, laughing, talking,
His strength protects me as a father’s should,
And I am loved once again.

The Flowers of My life

I love forget-me-nots.

When I was engaged to be married in 1971, I chose a china pattern called “Remember Me” that showed forget-me-nots surrounded by beautiful white bone china and gold. These were my “wedding dishes”.

I tried to grow forget-me-nots my whole life but always failed. They would whither and die – seeds would never sprout. I decided to give up on forget-me-nots and just enjoy them on my dishes during family occasions.

Before Jim died – he was laying in a hospital bed, paralyzed from the waist down – I discovered a bundle of beautiful blue forget-me-nots growing in the pebble pathway beside the pond.

Amazing!

I would come home from the hospital every day and visit my blue friends by the pond. Somehow, I felt comforted.

The following year, this plant had reseeded and grown into many beautiful bundles. Jim was now gone, but those flowers somehow made me feel that nature was working with me. Nature knew I needed support, help, love.

At my new house, many miles from the old, the entire side of the yard – 150 feet of it –  was covered with forget-me-nots…

Is there a power out there somewhere? God? Maybe, hopefully, possibly….

…For sure.

A Thousand Days

At the age of 64, it is important to remember NOT to drink four cups of caffeinated coffee before you go to bed.  As I tossed and turned last night, I contemplated the three years of time I have had to recover from losing my life partner.  I then realized, it had been 1000 days.  Too much time to think!

My meandering, night-time muse………

One thousand times, I have opened my eyes to a new day in the morning – alone.

One thousand times, I have climbed into bed – alone.

One thousand times, I have cleaned the house, weeded the garden, fed the birds, stocked the kitchen and made a day of meals – alone.

One thousand times, I have sewn a new piece for a beautiful quilt or a dress for a granddaughter – alone and without the praise of someone who respects me.

I came to the conclusion that:

I think of Jim every day, all the time – still.  I talk to him, and laugh with him and commiserate with this wonderful friend I grew up with.  He may only be in my sub-conscious, but he is there just the same.  I do this less after this thousand days and I don’t cry like I used to.

They say “time heals” and it has certainly taken the sting away from my grief in many ways, but,   I have also had to take a leading role in continuing to live.  My advice to you is to take your life by its devilish horns and make it behave the way you want it to.  Don’t just let stuff happen to you.

It has been easier in my new town to move ahead with new adventures, new friends, new responsibilities. I doubt there are many places like this one to start over.  My new friends here – my own age by the way –  are giving and caring and inclusive.  If they are going to an activity, they make sure I know about it so I can join them.  They don’t insist on driving me – they seem to know I like my independence too – that I need that to feel whole again.    Nobody here knew Jim well and I am meeting people at face value.  I am not a principal here, I am not a choir member here, and I am nobody’s widow.  I am just me.

But…

A thousand times when I wake in the morning I have rejoined my husband in a tribute to the day.

A thousand times I have wished him goodnight.

A thousand times, I have looked at a plane flying overhead or heard a motorcycle roar down the street and I have yearned for his arrival at home from his adventures.

A thousand times, I have arrived at my table to eat my dinner by myself and I have wished for his kiss hello and his praise of my culinary skill.

A thousand times I have looked back wishing life had given me more time with him.

So…

My goal: for the next thousand days – live life to the fullest – at the very least – live.