Poetry/Prose

The New Dementia (SOC reflections on time with grandma)

Grandma finishing a puzzle of my sister and I on an iPad (Image/editing credit: mine)

Grandma finishing a puzzle of my sister and I on an iPad (Image/editing credit: mine)

Last night

We sliced through darkness

*

Turned on hairpins

Of winding roads

*

Where headlights end

Imagination begins

*

A lone car on the highway

Gliding over bluffs

Between two tiny towns

*

It’s 55–she announced

Bundled in a blanket

Sitting soft, still

A mother hen

*

How dare I argue

With 93 years

Of grandma

*

How dare I do anything

But dance

With her dementia

*

“Where is Jennifer?”

With Connie

“Where are you staying?”

Cedarberry

“Have you seen your dad yet?”

We just had dinner with him–remember?

“Where are you staying?”

Cedarberry

“Oh … that’s nice.”

*

*Smile,* repeat
Not exactly

*

“Where’s Jennifer?!”

 With Connie

*

Meantimes

Watching emotions

Chasing tornadoes

Forgetting

Remembering

*

Over and over

Those days

Her council

Gone

*

Who am I?

Without her

*

Anyway

*

Transcendent spirit

We are one

*

Your Soul

The Wizard of Oz

*

The silent mind

Your yellow-brick road

*
The brain

Data processor

Emotional processor

Memory processor

Word processor

*
Fathom?

If there were no words

Could you think about it?

*

Other languages

You’ll never know

And those people

With those tongues

They think about it

*
Not enough sleep

Not enough will

Not enough understanding

Systems crash

Get old

Couldn’t think

Even if one wanted to

*
The soul rises

Shining through logic’s cracks

*
The demented mind

Ever as bright

Just, somehow, now

Diffuse

Like the feathers of a dove

Flown away

Left behind

*

We know they were there

*
We hold hands

She tells me what to do

Forgets

Asks

Surrenders

*
To everyone else’s words

*
I remove her shoes and socks

Rub her feet

Help her into her nighty

Assist her with her dentures

See a part of her

*
Vulnerable

Agitated

Reaching constantly

Again and again

For the slipping veil

Grace

*
Through her

I find a part of myself

The selfless part

*
“Emily,” she says

“You are such a big help”

*
But I can’t take all that

I’d be nothing

Without her

*
She sits on bed’s edge

Swings her legs up

Rolls to her side

*

Grandma, are you comfortable?

“No.”

*

Let’s get you comfortable.

*
She turns to me

Her blue-green eyes

Targeting

As they always have

My very soul

*
She smiles

Shakes her head softly

As if I missed the point

*

“No, hehe—it’s okay; I won’t be comfortable.”

Standard

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