The card we left unturned
Beside the joker in the grass
Is the tightrope we walk –
Better not to know the future –
It can be anything – up or down –
Let the mystery remain.
“It’s all part of the mix,” she said.
It was Christmas time
And our mother was making puddings
And our father shining his new black shoes
And he was promising us
The moon and the stars.
And now they bring her cakes
In the evening time for tea,
Long after she has ceased to know
What anything means to be,
But her smile of recognition
Far beyond words is enough,
Enough for us many years on
Beside her demented bed.
We search for a rhythm
Beyond the melody instead
Where nothing rhymes
Yet all is music.
Now as we sit and count out
The pennies of our soul –
The balance of our days and ways –
There go the shadow of her hand
On the table as we write
And the wisdom between the lines.
Above I have inserted a poem that I wrote for my mother shortly before Christmas 2007. She has now been six years in a Nursing Home called St Mary's where the nursing care is simply superb and ennobling. The ward my mother is in is for elderly ladies, all over 80 years old, and one, a lady called Daisy is 105. They are all demented to varying degrees needless to say. My mother barely recognises us now as her brain is succumbing to mini-stroke after mini-stroke which takes her memory aware piecemeal. She suffers from dementia, a cousin of Alzheimer's disease. The proper medical diagnosis for my mother is that she suffers from Multi-infarct dementia, also known as vascular dementia which is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer disease (AD) in the elderly (persons over 65 years of age). The term refers to a group of syndromes caused by different mechanisms all resulting in vascular lesions in the brain. Early detection and accurate diagnosis are important, as vascular dementia is at least partially preventable. So much for the medical diagnosis. I was listening to a wonderfully moving radio programme on RTE 1 about a man who has been caring for his wife who suffers from AD for the past ten years. He defined the experience of caring for his wife as "the long goodbye" which I think was the title of the programme. My mother Mary had her first mini-stroke at 84. She will be 91 in April 2008. Above I have inserted one of the many pictures I have taken of her in the past 6 years of hospital care.
The above photo I took somewhere around November 2007