Where Have You Been?

My father-in-law. who had Alzheimer’s, was confined several years ago after his wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor. This all took place within a month and a half. Initially we took him to visit her in her care facility across the city; but. he forgot he saw her by the time he got back to his residence.
It was very difficult for him that first year and after she passed away. When we went to visit we found notes written on his dinner napkins asking where she was and why she did not come back. It was heartbreaking to read his pleas for answers. Although we explained everything to him it was not long till he again asked the same questions. The note writing stopped after about a year. He seemed to be resigned that he was there by himself and only asked about her on occasion. He was there for five years and died in 2018.

In the winter of life the fog sets in
obscuring the obvious and familiar
Leaving one to memories past;
today’s events already forgotten.
A perspective very different
from yours and mine;
Time stands still …
like looking in a mirror to the past;
Closing the windows of the present.
Anxieties not understood
plague the mind and thoughts.
Looking for a spouse long gone;
Expecting to see her any moment;
Wondering where she is
and when she will return.
Distraught to the point of resignation
the fog becomes more intense.
Time slows down as the hour glass trickles
until finally // the top glass is empty.

This beautifully haunting song by Kathy Mattea helps bring the sadness of this disease into perspective.

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Secrets of Aging

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     Aging carries with it secrets many are reluctant to tell. When one spouse begins experiencing dementia, the other often compensates by keeping it a secret as long as possible.
We saw this with my father-in-law a number of years ago. As he began to be confused at times, she would write the directions or an address on an index card for him to carry along, in case he forgot.
In one instant he came from volunteering at the local hospital and could not remember where he had parked his car. It took him two hours and some help from the staff to find it.
In time the secrets of dementia reveal themselves. At that point hard family decisions have to be made regarding the future.

Secrets of aging
Will always reveal themselves
Winter closes in…

Today at d’Verse, Merril asked us to think about secrets. They come in many forms, but none so sad as when we age. These are secrets we ususally can’t keep.

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Check out my e-books on Amazon Kindle on amazon.com…

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Pieces of Life

Old model A rusting away - Marc Andrew

Age does disturbing things to some minds. Alzheimer’s disease leaves many feeling like their memories are only scattered pieces. Life no longer makes sense, as short-term memory disappears. Stress levels increase and shut down. Confinement can become necessary to protect the person from wandering off or putting themselves in harm’s way. Some still remember the distant past and days of childhood. Happy and traumatic events from the past get repeated over and over again. Questions to visitors are repeated over and over again as well. It is very sad to see a person deteriorate in this way.

Aging rusts the soul
Life scattered like lights and doors
Falling leaves hide rust
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Photo: Marc Andrew

Losing Touch…

See the source image

This incident happened  several years ago when we were shopping at our Walmart. It is sad to see anyone loose touch with reality. But when you see someone in public who appears to be lost and disoriented, it is very sad.  I wrote this poem after seeing a man like this as we were checking out. It was a very emotional experience to see this.

Losing Touch …The Point of No Return

He was wondering across the checkout lanes
At the local Super Wal-Mart
With a look of concern on his face
As he looked across the carts
He was unaware of his condition.
His pants were soaked and soiled
His only concern was to find his wife…
And surely she would come through soon
As I watched him move from lane to lane
My heart went out to this man
Who seemed not to know the state he was in
But had only one plan
I asked him if I could be of help
He said he didn’t think so
She would be coming through very soon.
And he wandered on down the row
I went to find a manager
Who could help him find his wife
But when we returned he had vanished
He was nowhere in sight
I still think about the old man not much older than myself
And wonder if he found her
And what it must be like
Not to know who you are
I cried many tears as I recalled
The empty look, the lack of concern
Unaware of the condition he was in
And for the mind that had grown dim
I wonder if I too will reach
That point of no return
The place where my only concern will be
Just to find the one I love

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Photo from Edge Images: cbsnews .com

Wandering/Wondering

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The transition from living on your own to living in an Alzheimer’s  care facility is a real paradigm shift. My father in law struggled greatly with the confusion of loss and change. When his wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to be placed in a care facility, it took longer for him to be placed. We took turns staying with him during that time. Not having his wife there with him and his onset of confusion created a lot of anxious moments for him. This is one example that occurred while I was sleeping in the living room.

Wandering/Wondering

“Oh, it’s you,” he said with a puzzled look

“I did not know you were here!”

This was the third time that night

“I just came out to make sure the door was locked.”

“When did you get here? ”

“We’ve been here for a week!”

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Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Mish asked us to write a Quadrille of only 44 words and use the word Puzzle as our prompt. Come join us at d’Verse~Poets Pub.

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Lost

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What happens when things grow foggy and you no longer know who you are? A few years ago we were in Wal-Mart when I noticed a man who seemed lost and confused. Not only that, but he was obviously not in control of himself. He kept wandering back and forth through the lines. It was so very sad to see this man who was so out of touch with reality. This is my account of that incident.

Losing Touch …The Point of No Return

He was wondering across the checkout lanes
At the local Super Walmart
With a look of concern on his face
As he looked across the carts

He was unaware of his condition.
His pants were soaked and soiled
His only concern was to find his wife…
And surely she would come through soon

As I watched him move from lane to lane
My heart went out to this man
Who seemed not to know the state he was in
But had only one plan

I asked him if I could be of help
He said he didn’t think so
She would be coming through very soon.
And he wandered on down the row

I went to find a manager
Who could help him find his wife
But when we returned he had vanished
He was nowhere in sight

I still think about the old man not much older than myself
And wonder if he found her
And what it must be like
Not to know who you are

I cried many tears as I recalled
The empty look, the lack of concern
Unaware of the condition he was in
And for the mind that had grown dim

I wonder if I too will reach
That point of no return
The place where my only concern will be
Just to find the one I love

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Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Some Endings…

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Some endings seem to be more difficult than others…

Pulling on heartstrings trying to sew the broken

Crying tears of sorrow for a love turned cold

Graduation brings a mixed bag of joy and apprehension

Knowing challenges // struggles // and hard work lay in store

On the only path to their growth and success

Friend separation leaves empty space // but never in our heart

True friendship never ends// no matter how far they roam

Reunions always seem like it was only yesterday

 

But // losing a loved one is the most difficult of all endings

A child before parent // an unimaginable ending

A parent who passes early leaves a giant hole in one’s heart

Cruel dementia is very difficult to accept

Living on without memory is an ending none of us desire

Living till we die is what we all hope and pray for

Some endings are more difficult than others

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Photo: Dwight L. Roth

While commenting on Robert Okaji’s post “Forgotten” I wrote the statement in the opening line of this poem. I decided to use it as today’s prompt. Check out his post:

Forgotten

 

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

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

Losing Touch…The Point of No Return

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He was wondering across the checkout lanes

At the local Super Wal-Mart

With a look of concern on his face

As he looked across the carts

 

He was unaware of his condition.

His pants were soaked and soiled

His only concern was to find his wife…

And surely she would come through soon

 

As I watched him move from lane to lane

My heart went out to this man

Who seemed not to know the state he was in

But had only one plan

 

I asked him if I could be of help

He said he didn’t think so

She would be coming through very soon.

And he wandered on down the row

 

I went to find a manager

Who could help him find his wife

But when we returned he had vanished

He was nowhere in sight

 

I still think about the old man not much older than myself

And wonder if he found her

And what it must be like

Not to know who you are

 

I cried many tears as I recalled

The empty look, the lack of concern

Unaware of the condition he was in

And for the mind that had grown dim

 

I wonder if I too will reach

That point of no return

The place where my only concern will be

Just to find the one I love

Losing Touch   …The Point of No Return

 

He was wondering across the checkout lanes

At the local Super Wal-Mart

With a look of concern on his face

As he looked across the carts

 

He was unaware of his condition.

His pants were soaked and soiled

His only concern was to find his wife…

And surely she would come through soon

 

As I watched him move from lane to lane

My heart went out to this man

Who seemed not to know the state he was in

But had only one plan

 

I asked him if I could be of help

He said he didn’t think so

She would be coming through very soon.

And he wandered on down the row

 

I went to find a manager

Who could help him find his wife

But when we returned he had vanished

He was nowhere in sight

 

I still think about the old man not much older than myself

And wonder if he found her

And what it must be like

Not to know who you are

 

I cried many tears as I recalled

The empty look, the lack of concern

Unaware of the condition he was in

And for the mind that had grown dim

 

I wonder if I too will reach

That point of no return

The place where my only concern will be

Just to find the one I love

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Photo: Web Image