#alzheimers

PUZZLES

They loved to work on puzzles…puzzles of every kind

anything they could do to help improve their minds.

 

He would sit beside her as they completed crosswords

(always the left side he would choose)

He would help her with the answers as she read out the clues.

 

They would sit day in…day out with him on her left flank….

and he loved to watch how with pen in hand she filled in all the blanks.

 

They loved their jigsaw puzzles.

They made sure each one read '500 pieces’ on the label

because any puzzle with more than that wouldn’t fit on their card table. 

 

As they neared completion of a puzzle…his participation would decrease…

always giving her the pleasure…of completing that last piece.

 

And even though they completed puzzles to help their minds stay strong

that doesn’t always mean in life…the mind will play along.

 

For we never know what Fate has in store…what Destiny may bring….

and one day he began to notice she was forgetting things…

 

It was sad when he began to notice…and sadder yet because he knew

there would come a day…when she would notice too.

 

“I’m afraid?”  she said one day in tears

What are we going to do?”

“Whatever happens.” he said taking her hand

I’ll be right here with you.

 

So life was the last puzzle they completed

and he constantly gave thanks

he was there to help find her missing pieces

to fill in all her blanks….

 

And he was there when their puzzle ended

there the day she died….

their hands fitting together like a puzzle

 

as he was seated by her side.



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HIS FINAL NOTE

They were sad to watch the disease take his mind

at such a slow and steady pace

watching the emotions..

the joy…

the happiness

drain out of his face.

 

They often wondered what it was like for him

as his life faded into blur. 

Did he anticipate and dread the day

he would not know who they were?

 

Yes, he knew what was happening…

a least for a while he did

and he left a final message for them

as into the fog he slid…

 

‘My dearest family’ it read

‘whatever you may do

please do not forget me

 

after I’ve forgotten you.’


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FOREVER HOLDING HANDS

There I was at work surrounded by a thousand stories of drama, love and surprise

when one of the greatest love stories I could imagine unfolded before my eyes:

 

 

They came into the bookstore…a couple old and grand

wearing smiles across their faces…walking hand in hand.

 

I noticed as they walked the store…their gait was deliberate and slow

and they continued holding each other’s hands…never letting go.

 

They came in to browse, get out of the heat…look for a story or two

Before they left they stopped to talk to me…as customers often do.

 

It was at this moment when we spoke that I quickly came to know

why he held her hand so tight…why he would not let her go.

 

As he and I talked about the store…(he mentioned it’s a beautiful place)

she held his hand, stared at me…and the smile never left her face.

 

When she did enter our conversation…gesturing with her other hand

she laughed and giggled and mumbled…but she was hard to understand.

 

I imagine it was Alzheimers…that was interfering with her style

but it hadn’t yet stolen her desire…or her ability to smile.

 

I conversed with her as best I could…not understanding most of what she said

which meant a lot of looking into her eyes, smiling and nodding my head.

 

Before they left…her husband shook my hand and thanked me joyously

“For giving her the same attention,” he said, “that you have given me.”

 

She waved as they were leaving…her other hand he never dropped

and as they left the store I heard him say…”We’re heading to the ice cream shop.”

 

She seemed to quiver with excitement…the excitement of a child

then gave one last glance in my direction, waved again…and smiled.

 

I wonder how much longer they have together…

before Alzheimers makes it’s final stand…

But I like to think whatever happens…

 

they’ll be forever holding hands…


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BITS AND PIECES

We haven’t always got along…the neighbor down the street and me

When it comes to yard work…eye to eye…we don’t always see.

 

Oh ours is but a minor disagreement…a tiny tiff I must admit…

He likes the leaves raked up by a certain time…I like to wait a bit.

 

So over the many years we’ve lived as neighbors…we wave and exchange smiles

but he never waves as often when the leaves begins to pile.

 

I was standing outside looking at the fallen leaves when he came by the other day…

We hadn’t spoken in a while but I was pretty sure what he was going to say.

 

As he sluggishly approached me…I knew it wouldn’t take him long

to tell me it was time to rake…but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  

 

He asked me who I was and how long I’ve lived in this neighborhood.

When I noticed the far away look in his eyes I immediately understood.

 

He said he loves his house, he loves this street…as he introduced himself to me

He said it’s just a horrible thing to lose your memory…

 

He said some days he forgets his name…some days his wife’s name too

He said he’s lived in this neighborhood a long time…he’s not sure what he’s going to do.

 

He said he still remembers bits and pieces…sometimes into his mind they spring…

He said his biggest fear is someday…he’ll have forgotten everything…

 

But for now he said he likes to walk….to stroll his street…his neighborhood…and then

with a big smile on his face…he introduced himself again.

 

As he casually walked on down the street..I couldn’t help feeling sad…

Sad for what he’s going through…sad for those little spats we’ve had.

 

As I saw him turn the corner there was a feeling I couldn’t help shaking

so I got my rake from out our shed and immediately started raking,

 

I wanted to be ready… if on his return trip…bits and pieces he retrieves

 

and he suddenly remembers…that it’s time for raking leaves.


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DON'T WORRY DEAR, I'M HERE

 

It began with her misplacing things…and progressed to not knowing who I was…

She would wander away from home…for that is what Alzheimers does.

 

Yet other times she knew me well, she knew where she was…and when…

She was intelligent and lucid…she was my Mom again.

 

I never knew when Alzheimers had control…or when Mom would be released…

for that’s the personality of this disease…that is the nature of this beast.

 

There were times when Mom could sense my worry…and tried to ease my fear

She’d smile…a reassuring smile…and say, “Don’t worry, dear…I’m here.

 

But Alzheimers is unrelenting…at first making small demands

willing to let Mom have her moments…while patiently waiting to take command.

 

I remember the first time she didn’t recognize me…I bowed my head to hide my tears

when all of a sudden she was holding my face…”Don’t worry.” she said…”I’m here.”

 

We had no choice but to acquiesce to her malady…

to take her high days with her lows

It was only after my visits were over…that I let my anger flow.

 

And when she was lost to me forever…when in her confusion I’d see her tears

I would take her face into my hands and whisper in her ear…

 

Don’t worry, Mom…I’d say…there’s nothing for you to fear…

Wherever you’ve gone to…Don’t worry, 

Don’t worry Mom…

 

I’m here.


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SHE KNEW

The daughter suspected there was a problem…and found it quite upsetting.

when she began to notice how many little things her mother was forgetting.

 

Initially she thought it just old age…when she forget certain letters of the alphabet

until there seemed to be no end to the things she would forget.

 

She witnessed her decline with sadness knowing there was nothing she could do.

And she wondered how sad her mom would be…if she was seeing it too.

 

Until the day she found her mother surrounded by old photos…family albums too.

And when she saw tears streaming down her mother’s face…she realized…she knew.

 

It took a moment for her mom to recognize her…both faces showing the strain…

For how does one unveil love while concealing so much pain?

 

“So Momma, what are you doing?” she asked, her worse fears playing out,

“Surrounded by all these albums…with all these photos strewn about?”

 

“I don’t quite understand this” her mom said, “it’s all just too bizarre,

but when I look at some of these people…I can’t remember who they are!”

 

“I hoped if I studied these pictures…their names would come back to me…

and I’d remember them before they fall…through the holes in my memory.”

 

So she sat down next to her mother…whose life was slowly becoming a blur

and as they looked at every person in every picture…she helped her remember who they were.

 

But, despite doing everything in her power…everything she could think to do…

the holes in her mother’s memory grew so large…

eventually everyone fell through….

 

“I wonder in the end if your mom knew how much you loved her?”

her husband asked when it time came to bid her mom adieu…

She smiled…“Love is a feeling…not a memory.” she said.

 

“She knew”…I’m sure she knew.”


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THE FIRST SNOWFALL IN NOVEMBER

They fell in love many years ago…

Their first kiss…was in the first snowfall one November.

Exactly how many years they’ve been together…

neither can remember.

 

As you grow older you tend to forget things…

What month is this? What day?

But there came a time he began to notice

her memory slipping away.

 

It wasn’t fair. It never is.

For she would notice too.

“There are some days.”…she said as tears were falling,

“I don’t remember you.”

 

As more and more memories slipped away

There were days she lost her glow…

I will never let you forget me”, he said hugging her.

“I will never let you go.”

 

It wasn’t easy. It never is

He remained her chaperone…

As she fell more and more into loneliness

He would not let her feel alone.

 

Yet there were moments when her memory returned…

When, for a moment, her mind unlocked a door…

Moments when she remembered him…

These were the moments he waited for…. 

 

And each night he’d smile, kiss her lips and say

“Just like our first kiss…do you remember?”

And occasionally she would smile and say…

 

I love the first snowfall in November.


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