This is an old poem I wrote when my grandmother was beginning to deteriorate with early onset Alzheimer’s. As it happens, and as life goes, my grandfather became suddenly ill not long after this with a severe brain tumour and passed away a year before my grandma. This was my imagining life without her. It might seem a funny thing to say, but I’m glad it happened the way it did. Whilst my grandma missed my grandad so much, I have a feeling he simply wouldn’t have coped without her. She was a tender woman with an enormous reserve
We deal in fragments because we have little else. Some are beautiful, shining, concentrated; some are ever more striking than the imperfect whole. But precious fragments, delicate and unique, are fractured from her being every day. Broken off and discarded without her consent. We try to catch them desperately but they fall much faster than we can see, and land farther than we can reach.
Things are progressing, I know. Despite my trying to breathe in every detail of the moment in some childlike hope of preserving it–the shop-bought fragrance that releases in occasional puffs from beneath the hostess trolley by the door, the warm rumblings of the cat’s belly against my thigh, the silenced tennis match on the TV, the way the pale light falls in uneven stripes through the old, broken blinds—things are progressing (regressing?) and there is nothing we can do about it. We are simultaneously slipping through the wide sinkhole of the future, and falling back through the broken pieces of
I read a true, short story in an Alzheimer’s version of Chicken Soup for the Soul that touched me deeply. My beloved grandma, Dora, is currently in the latter stages of this terrible disease, so I am doing a lot of reading around the subject, as well as experiencing first-hand the strangeness, the suffering, the changes, the myriad moments of confusion and the few of lucid joy. The story in the book was written by a woman who would visit her elderly mother frequently in a nursing home. She writes about how her mother would say “Hello dear. Have you
This beautiful lady, Eudora (Dora) is my grandmother. She has Alzheimer’s. She turned 85 on the 17th of August this year and, in the past two weeks, her mobility has decreased to very little, her speech is slurred and she sleeps much of the time. She can barely lift her chin from her chest. It is a change from the agitation and anger of the past couple of months, she is quiet and gentle at the moment, but her sudden deterioration is shocking and sad. She is in pain this afternoon, itching and aching everywhere, but she still finds the