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?”


“Have you seen your dad yet?”

We just had dinner with him–remember?

“Where are you staying?”


“Oh … that’s nice.”


*Smile,* repeat
Not exactly


“Where’s Jennifer?!”

 With Connie



Watching emotions

Chasing tornadoes




Over and over

Those days

Her council



Who am I?

Without her




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


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


Like the feathers of a dove

Flown away

Left behind


We know they were there

We hold hands

She tells me what to do




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



Reaching constantly

Again and again

For the slipping veil


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?



Let’s get you comfortable.

She turns to me

Her blue-green eyes


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.”


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