Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Caregiver's guide to Alzheimer's

A caregiver’s guide to Alzheimer’s

When the stranger first arrives
you will go deaf and blind
rather than accept
this twin that follows
close as a double exposure blurring
the edges of your loved one’s
life.  She may even ask you 
if there is someone behind 
her. But like a two year old
playing hide and seek you will
cover your eyes and say no, believing
that if you refuse to see it, it will not
find you.  Forgive

for soon enough the shadow will gain substance
and lumber after your loved one
like a sloppy drunk that will not leave 
the party.  Evasive action is usual and
futile, followed by
anger, for which you will be sorry
one day.

At length the illness will become
a permanent boarder requiring
accommodation – extra room
set aside in every part
of the day.  At table
you’ll make a place for both
the loved one and the illness.
At night you will pray
for both, though what you pray for
is your burden
to carry

In the end
there will be one again, but not the one
you knew.  The loved one will have been
possessed completely by the stranger. 
Only the deus ex machina of death
can part them now. 

Waiting with the stranger
at the terminus, peering into the dark
tunnel for any approaching light
you will feel completely

When the transport comes
at last, the suffocating shadow will step away
and memory will restore the singular person
your loved one was, leaving you trying
to remember.  For if you forget
any small thing – today’s date or
mayonnaise at the store –
you’ll start looking
over your shoulder, wondering
if you are being
followed now too.


mumbliss said...

Oh Elizabeth!
Thank you for this. My heart aches.
This is beautiful and painful.

I treasure every speck of time and love I have shared with both of you. Sometimes the memories are ghostlike, but other times they are like a piece of gravel in my shoe in their monumental importance. They are always passionate and full of surprise and gratitude because I feel so so so so lucky.

Willym said...

Dearest Liz

Again you have captured so much of what we are seeing and have seen and are afraid that we will see.

I hope you don't mind but I used the photo to activate a link to this posting.

My heart is aching for you and for us as we experience this loss - that will when death finally comes be a second loss.

Holding you close in my thoughts and my heart.

mumbliss said...

This is an amazing post. I keep wanting to reread the poem but it hurts. I look at the the picture instead.
The picture is perfect and the poem makes me understand what writing can be. I am moved to the deepest places by your words Elizabeth.
sending love to all of you

Laurent said...

I know of what you speak. Thank you for writing so movingly of this sad tragedy.


if a dr tells me I have Alzheimer's, it will be the shortest case in history..cause I'll go home and shoot myself..

David said...

Thanks for your eloquence, which expresses something of what we're going through too. No need to say any more than, thoughts with you.

Anonymous said...

I love your poem. Love it.
I am also navigating memory loss and care of my mother.
Thank you for posting this.
Carol (found you through

Elizabeth said...

All, it means so much to me that my expression of my deeply personal experience can speak to you in yours. I wish you all bravery and many many small consolations along the way. Your words are a consolation to me. xo

David Tal said...

This is very informative post I like it. Person suffering from Alzheimer's disease is not so simple handle with. It requires a highly trained person to deal with as most of the time its not easy to take care of these patients. One can may find solution of this problem by hiring some kind of In Home Care services. Today there are so many organization who deal with this problem in highly professional way.

Alzheimer specialist

Sandra Tyler said...

I don't know how you're dealing with this. I have a feeling your situation is far more stressful than mine if Mom is still at home. I didn't know you had a blog! Let's follow each other! xo Sandy