Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s

Go. Lightly.

I try, and fail, to imagine what it’s like –
To not know that you don’t overturn a planter
on the kitchen counter. To have no way of
summoning the words to explain why you did it.

There is dirt, dirt everywhere, and she is
fixated on the barely-visible cookie particle
between the stove and the fridge. She
can’t stop wanting to get rid of the television –

the assurances that it will be removed when
there is sufficient manpower to do it
soothes for only a minute, perhaps two,
and then it’s back to the why. Why is it there.

Her world is shrinking. She has a vague memory
of being active in the morning, of making things
look better, but cannot remember the simple
actions of reaching under the sink for the

cleaning supplies. Her sleeves are always
stretched out, sopping wet. She moves
a knick-knack, a framed picture, then moves
it back again. This is “cleaning.” Hence –

the dirt piled on the kitchen counter. I think,
who knows what she would have done with
it if we hadn’t come up here just now?
She
may have put it back in the planter. She may

have tried to put it down the disposal. I have
so many trust issues now, and yet she trusts
me implicitly; she obediently sits and eats her
toast as we try to manipulate the dirt into

a Stop & Shop bag. She drinks her juice and
marvels at the cleanliness of the counter when
we have finished. And I can’t get mad. This
is not her fault. She doesn’t know any better
.

And this is what I simply cannot understand.

What I do understand is the power of words.
Not please don’t dump dirt all over the counter,
but Maybe the older you grow and the less easy
it is to put thought into action, maybe that’s why

it gets all locked up in your head and becomes
a burden.
I am reading Capote to her. In her
well life, he was a favorite. She listens, rapt,
laughs at everything you’re supposed to laugh

at, like she remembers having read it the first
time, and then again. And again. Golightly’s
frantic monologues soothe us. And in these
moments together, there is understanding.

No Title

I want to keep these flashes snug,
protected in the blanket
of the warm August nights
from whence they emerged.

Windows down, Rick Astley blaring,
you demanding that I listen, listen to
THAT VOICE,
my God. Majestic.
Bigger than the man,
bigger than this whole summer.

Has it been six years since I heard from you?
I stopped trying to glean meaning
from those final messages long ago,
maybe the Year of Our Lord 2009,
around the time I curled into a ball
on the living room floor, making
the most unholy noises,
grieving my own projected losses.
None of them came to fruition.
In case you were wondering.

Where are you, I wonder,
other than right here
in this corner of my limbic attic,
firing away at random,
bringing you to me in the middle of Panera Bread.

Where are you, really, other than in my memories?

I’m dealing so much with memory now, Keith.
It’s all I can think about.
There are proteins which can destroy them, memories.
Proteins banding together to make you forget all of the things that made you.
I pray nightly to Something Out There that they won’t get mine.
To lose you again, and not even realize it.
Come back. Stay.

The Language of Sundowning

Upstairs is a trail of clues –
two bowls of cat food,
side by side
on the ottoman; a
nutcracker jammed
into a Yankee Candle; a small
Lord & Taylor shopping bag
filled with dirt
on the kitchen counter.

Sentences fade
or stop
abruptly.
She tells me
she is turning three,
and if you can overlook
the gray hair and
see only the way
she sits – like she will
disappear into her chair – this
wouldn’t be a stretch.

But I have learned
her language. Three is
seventy-two, eating
is talking, the bag of dirt
on the counter the last stop
on this trail of clues
she is maybe intentionally
leaving
as she is leaving.

The Thing

I am learning
that there are at least
thirty different ways
to interpret “thing.”
I am learning to
listen for cadence, to
look for context. This
is not always easy
when two or more
“things” are involved;
if there’s one “thing,”
and the other “thing”
still has its proper name,
we can more or less
easily determine
the definition of the
first “thing.” Sometimes
there are gesticulations
to work out around
the “thing,” and sometimes
this helps while other times
it impedes the translation.

We laugh because we
have to, because this
is the nature of the thing.