In praise of all mothers. There are many people who have, or had, mother’s LIVING with dementia. Not SUFFERERS of dementia (we don’t use that word with cancer, or MS, or Parkinson’s or head injuries, etc. etc. so let’s STOP using it for dementia), and this is my little prose poem for my mother. Maybe it will resonate?
There are no cards for mothers with dementia. No cards for you, Mother, yet somehow the day arrives following weeks of anticipation: flowers, gifts, family get-togethers. But stigma creates silence and silence holds sadness.
So I hold you.
The words now used by others to define you: demented, sufferer, an empty shell, a long goodbye, the endless forgetting. Un-visitable.
“I can’t come by anymore. She doesn’t know who I am and besides, she’s only 10% of who she was.”
No! She’s 100% of who she is becoming.
Words that do not define you, as you and I sing the old songs, “Moon River”, “Goodnight Irene”, “The Sunny Side of the Street” (you, in perfect pitch), or when your fingers dance across imaginary keys, miming melodies – Bach’s Schafe können sicher weiden.
“La, la la la, la la la, la la la . . .”
Unfitting words for all the hours of silence, as you stroke my forehead, pulling fine strands of my hair with gentle staccato tugs.
Are you only worth celebrating, Mother, if you never change or lose your memories, if you never forget who I am? Or, as I learned at your side, the heart of you endures through music and touch and song, your Buddhist-like, moment-living essence, a model for us all.
Greeting cards: welcome, acknowledge, receive, meet. Mother, no one is as interesting to me as you, with Alzheimer’s. Where is the card for that?
Author, The Long Hello