Second Childhood

As a child he loved to watch cartoons

Scooby Doo, the Flintstones, and Bugs Bunny too

All of their antics were such a delight

He laughed and he giggled… oh, what a sight

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This little boy grew up to be a man

A famous architect who could draw up a plan

His buildings were famous all over world

And his love for designs that were brazen and bold

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He raised a family and had five children

Loved them dearly and wished for a dozen

As time went on he became a proud grandpa

To twelve little munchkins who loved their Pa Pa

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From time to time he became forgetful

Couldn’t remember names always regretful

It soon became apparent it was his dementia

But the grandchildren didn’t care about Pa Pa’s absencia

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Time finally came when he reverted back to childhood

With stories and tales of once being Robin Hood

But on Saturday morning with kids in the room

Now as a child he loves watching cartoons

Today at d’Verse Peter, asked us to write a circle poem that begins where it ends and ends where it begins. Last week I commented to my wife that when I grow old I am going to enjoy watching cartoons again! This led me to the poem I wrote today. All of us are affected in some way by people who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia. It often takes away present memories, leaving only memories of past days or childhood. So, as you see we come full circle in our life at times.

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com

Photo: Dwight L. Roth – Taken on Rootle – PBS TV

A Living History

This is not a painting

It is a living family history

Not just an abstract splash of color

But, a life’s journey

A story that began a lifetime ago

Moving 2500 miles to Alberta

Building a little house in the big woods

Raising his family near a Cree Indian village

By the shores of Calling Lake

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This is a story of mid-life change

to the big city of Edmonton

Becoming a respiratory therapist

A new career of serving others

Retiring to a condo

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Memory fading to dim

More than Mother can care for

Her brain tumor required attention

Care needed for both

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End of like can be full of surprises

This is not a painting

It is our family’s story

Painting: Dwight L. Roth 1-2013

Today at d’Verse, Mish asked us to choose an object, that means something special to us, and write a poem beginning with the line… “This is not a _________” Eight years ago we flew to Edmonton, AB to make care arrangements for both of my wife’s parents. Her mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor and her father was suffering from Alzheimer’s. It was a traumatic time for all of us. When we finally returned home the end of January, I poured my emotions into this painting depicting their life in Alberta. To me, this is much more than a painting. It is a piece of family history!

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com …click on Mr. Linkey and read more poems.

Where are You?

“Helen, where are you! When are you coming home. I miss you, please…let me know when you return. I will be down in Bruce’s room watching Wheel of Fortune.”

Paul wrote these notes carefully and neatly on the back of the napkin he brought back from the dinning room. His mind smoky, his focus clouded, he thought to himself, “Reading what I have just written, I now believe she may be gone for good.” His mind soon clouded again as he leaned back in his recliner.

In the time since he moved into his new apartment, he had not seen his wife Helen. He could not imagine where she might be. She might come through the door at any time. Day after day he waited and wondered. He left notes for her, in case she returned, while he was out, but to no avail.

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Today at d’verse, Lillian is guiding our Prosery. Prosery is where we take a given line from a poem and incorporate that line into a prose piece of only 144 words. Today she asked us to include the line: “Reading what I have just written, I now believe” taken from Louise Gluck’s Faithful and Virtuous Night and her poem Afterwards.

I decided to write my piece about the emotions and feelings of one with Alzheimer’s disease. Eight years ago my father-in-law had to be confined to a care facility in the weeks following Christmas. Although he seemed to adjust well to his new environment, not being with his wife was very traumatic for him. This is a glimpse of that time. Although we took him to see her, he did not remember after he was back at his residence.

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Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Blinded By Comfort

Today on NPR I listened to a discussion that centered around Thanksgiving. The commentator said that back in 1970, the descendants of the Mayflower arrival in 1620. planned a 350 year celebration. It was to include that first year, when they were said to have celebrated the first Thanksgiving in America, along with the local Native Americans.

A descendant of the Indian tribe, Wampanoag leaderWamsutta, was asked to speak at the ceremony. They asked that he give them a copy of his speech prior to giving it. When they read his speech, they said he could not say what he had written about the following atrocities and massacres that occurred years later. He refused to edit his speech to a more positive tone and instead, with the help of the tribes of New England, started a National Day of Mourning for Native Americans, that continues to this day, on Thanksgiving Day. It doesn’t get much press, if any.

With all the turmoil over Confederate Statues coming down and being moved, one needs to also think of what was done to Native Americans who lived where we live now!

Comfort blinds the eyes

Thankful that we don’t remember

those who were slaughtered

Thankful for all that we have

Memory loss keeps us silent

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Comfort blinds our eyes

Memory loss keeps us silent

Our “God given rights”

Guns still sit in our closets

Should anyone come calling

  • I should say, I am very Thankful for the blessings of life, faith, liberty, and family. But the dark side still haunts me!

National Day of Mourning (United States protest) – Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

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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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

Black Holes

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This is an abridged version of my poem, Black Holes in the Brain, showing the effects of Alzhiemer’s disease on a person. During the stressful transition from independent living to confined living the confusion for my father-in-law was greatly increased. I posted his Wandering/Wonderings earlier this week.

Bjorn from d’Verse~Poets Pub asked us to consider the use of punctuation in poetry. It helps shoe line breaks and increases flow for the reader. This one is full of punctuation. It was written four years ago after working through this difficult transition.

Black Holes In My 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 grandfather was just like this.
He would apologize for his memory all the time.
I hope I never get that way.”

“By the way, where is Mother?

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Photo: Dwight L. Roth

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Note: This evening, after this had posted, we got word that he had died.

 

Fading Shades of Gray

Mother and Dad

Fading Shades of Gray  (a Hai bun)

Watching my father-in-law’s mind fade from shades of gray to black evoked a lot of emotion.  It became noticeable to my wife and me when we visited her parents in 2009. Driving us across Edmonton to the Science Center, he got mixed up and forgot how to get there. Apparently this happened before, because Mother had written the directions for him on index cards. Later she told us that one day he came out to the parking deck, after volunteering at the hospital and could not find his car. She kept tabs on him until 2012 when she developed a brain tumor.

Giving up his keys and driving privileges it was very hard on him, but the hardest thing for him to understand was when they were in separate care facilities. He would ask about her over and over, and could not quite comprehend what was happening. After she died, he kept expecting her to return. He is now 90 and seems to have adjusted to his confinement, even telling friends who visit that they should try to get a room there as well. He tells them that they take good care of him there.

Winter brain cells fade

Short term mem’ry turns to black

“Helen, Where are you?”

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Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Bjorn, at d’Verse~Poetry Pub asked us to write a Hai bun using the word gray. I chose to write on the graying effects of Alzheimer’s on the brain.

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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