Backspacing

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Backspace is a wonderful key on the computer. It allows us to correct a typo and end up with a perfect document.  As I was typing my poems for this blog, I became aware of how many times I have to backspace. It just comes naturally, like typing with all my fingers. In life, backspacing is not such a good thing. For those of us who are easily distracted, and find remembering difficult, backspacing becomes part of our day.  Forgetting to follow through with a task, not seeing the obvious, or becoming distracted in the middle of a task, are just a few of the things that make backspacing necessary. ADD is not something new. It has been around since time began. Some may feel it is done intentionally, but in reality it is just the way our brain works.

Backspacing

Fated to live retracing steps taken

Backspacing becomes the norm

A brain one wire short of perfection

Requires backspacing to be the norm

In bygone days erasures quickly met metal

Pen and ink scratched out those shorts

Some keep asking //thinking I should learn

But for me, backspacing is the norm

Distractions, only a second past, causes forgetfulness

A mind with a missing memory chip

Seems repetition should solve the problem

But with me, backspacing is the norm

Reminders in multiples of ten are needed

Lamenting the need to repeat again and again

Brings no healing to a chipless brain

For me backspacing is the norm

Names go through my canals // beat the anvils

And pass right on through // unless

Piggy-backed on another file //stored there for awhile

It may seem like I don’t care // and sometimes I am not aware

Forgetfulness becomes my greatest flaw

When I am old // perhaps I’ll be excused

They’ll call it Alzheimer’s …and lock me away

Saying for him backspacing is the norm

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Photo: Dwight L. Roth

 

Holes in my Brain

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I wrote this in January 2013, after  very traumatic family series of events. My wife’s mother was diagnosed with a inoperable brain tumor in November. Her father had been showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease for a year or two previously. Losing his keys and driving privileges was a major blow to his self esteem. As a result the siblings had to arrange for care for their mother and face the realization that their father would need to be confined and cared for during the remainder of his life. It was a very emotional time for all of us. He did not fully understand the impact of what was taking place. The following is a summary of the emotional roller coaster he went through while we stayed with him waiting for him to be placed. I posted this earlier, but feel it is important to share this again to help others understand what caregivers go through.

As sad as this story is, he has since adjusted to his new living quarters and the routines. We recently made the 2500 mile trip to help him celebrate his 90th birthday with some family and friends. It as a great party that he enjoyed, but the next day he did not remember how old he was nor that he had a party. These are the joys and challenges of Alzheimer’s. Living in the moment is all we have!

Memory Goes Out Through Black Holes in the Brain

“I have come to discover that I now have black holes in my brain.

Spaces of emptiness that never get filled.

Like the holes in my pants pocket the memories slip out…”

 

“Oh, you are here? Well I didn’t realize! When did you get here?

You have been here a few weeks? Well I didn’t remember.

Tell me something I should know…

What shall we talk about…”

 

“Can I do something for you… do you need a light on?

Would you like to watch the News if I turn it on?

Do you want me to set the table for breakfast?

Can I help you in some way?

Would you like a piece of chocolate? Go ahead have one!”

 

“Is this Sunday? Are we going to church today?

Where is Mother & when is she coming home?

She won’t be coming back home? Oh my!

These are things I should remember.

When will we go to see here again? Can we go today?

We were there today?

Why can’t I remember? Were we just there today?!”

 

“I remember my grandmother was just like this.

She would apologize for her poor memory all the time.

I hope I never get that way.”

 

“By the way, where is Mother?

Do you know when she will be back?

She’s at the home!!? I didn’t know.

Somebody should have told me!”

“When will she be coming home?

You say she won’t be coming home!?

Oh my, I will have to learn to cook!

Perhaps you can show me how to cook…”

I will have to take care of myself.

“I just discovered I have no money in my wallet!

Can you take me by the bank tomorrow to cash a check?

I should pay you something for your expenses.

You are keeping the expenses on a tab?

Well, I should pay you.

You will take care of me? But you can’t keep coming to stay with me?

I should pay you something to help with the expenses.

You are using a debit card… from my account?

Well, I wonder why the bank didn’t notify me about this.”

 

“Tell me, Where is Mother?

Oh yes, she is at the home… up on 104th Avenue…

near Hollyrood close to the church.

Have I ever been there? I have… I don’t seem to remember.

Will she be coming home this evening?

She’s Living there… all the time? For how long!?

She won’t be coming home again? Is she sick? What is wrong with her?”

 

“Can you take me with you when you go to see her?

Can we go this evening to see her?

We were just there this afternoon? Why can’t I remember that?”

 

“Good night, I must check to see that the door is locked.

 

I just came back out to see if I had locked the door.

Well it looks like all the doors are locked.

 

Is anybody there…

 

Oh, I just came back out to check to see if the door was locked.”

 

“Good Morning… Where is Helen?”

 

Written in memory of Ruth’s father. who was in the stress of losing his wife to a brain tumor as well as losing his own independence to Alzheimer’s disease during the Christmas of 2012.

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Dad Turned 90 Today

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Dad is Ninety

Dad turned ninety today

Although he didn’t remember

Living in a world of memory loss

The short term completely gone

Living only in the moment

One experience at a time

Forgetting the past he presses on

To reach the finish line

Waiting now with serenity of heart

But not the same of mind

Barely getting up out of his chair

He rolls with his walker here and there

Unstable security allows him to move

A forgetful memory keeps him out of the groove

Proclaiming to us that he’s still in good health

Not realizing the creeping stealth of his situation

He says he is thankful he lasted this long

Hoping to see us on our next vacation

He still recognizes our faces

But names slip through the cracks

And when it’s time to go he’s sad we have to run

He forgets we were there each time we go

And exclaims each time we come in

His face brightens up as he says hello

Surprised over and over to see us again

But while we are there it’s a special time

To see everyone brings him joy

He has not lost his humor or wit

Still catches a funny joke we tell

And has a good chuckle at it

Some things in his brain are still working

He loves to have some fun

He enjoyed his party and all his friends

Until they had to run

About most things he asks

It must be quite confusing

To see us there and then we’re gone

The memory just won’t last

Living to a ripe old age sounds good

The goal of many I am sure

But for me it’s a journey I hope not to take

Let me go while I still remember

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Photo: Dwight L. Roth

The Blessing of Now and Then

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Losing your mind may have an upside. For those with dementia or Alzheimer’s the gradual loss of memory seems like a sad thing. Being confined to a locked facility to us would seem like prison. But to an Alzheimer’s patient whose memory is failing, they may not worry about such things any longer. The fact that my father-in-law does not remember that his wife died may be more of a blessing than a curse. All they have is the now!  I believe it is our job to help make their now the best it can be. Living in the present and remembering the distant past is all some of them have left.

         The Blessing of Now and Then

Time creeps in and steals our yesterdays

Remembering the days of youth as clear as a bell

But yesterday crawls quickly into its shell

Recalled no more a cup too full

Footprints in the aging surf

Lost forever in its tide

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Memories dissolve into the present

Nothing else exists time is too short

Living now is all we have in the echo of the toll

Joy in the day people no longer hold us back

Every experience treasured in the receding tide

Feeling exhilarated not knowing why

Family and friend’s joy and sorrow let go without a thought

Immediately lost in the disappearing foot prints of time

Photos: Dwight L. Roth

 

Coals on the Hearth of Time

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Most of us know of someone who suffers from dementia. As we get older our minds sometime lose their short and long term memories. We got a first hand experience with this in 2013 when my father-in-law became debilitated from short term memory loss and had to enter a facility for Alzheimer’s patients. It is sad and difficult to watch this happen knowing there is no cure for it at this time. This poem reflects on memory loss and how it can affect us.

Coals on the Hearth of Time

Gone the fire once burning brightly

Life’s logs burned down to glowing embers

Slowly consumed white with age

Raging inferno of youth left behind

Dreams long lived slowly exit

Sifting out past memories

Coals of childhood smolder in the darkness

Warm glows grow dim on the hearth of time

Flickers are all that remain of a glowing life

Short bursts reappearing for a time

Flash paper memories

Lost in smoke of the dying embers

Clinkers from the past refuse to burn

“Where is Helen?”

Wondering why

Not remembering the question

Not knowing the answer

Repetitive memory now gone

Waiting Waiting Waiting

Remaining coals turn to ash

The fire dies