It’s a year since I wrote this post.
I am so glad I was blogging a lot then. Now it is the anniversary of Mother’s last weeks and by reading back, I can follow the trajectory of those days; my visit in mid April and then the call to say she was dying; the five days leading up to her death. Afterwards.
Octavia and I were talking yesterday about the power of first anniversaries. Why does it feel so important that this month, day by day, I follow, relive, what happened then? The waiting for the inevitable; the knowledge that each time I left her might be the last time I saw her alive. Dementia robbed her of so much, but she was still recognisably my mother. Still someone I loved, with whom the connection was strong. So often those living with dementia are spoken about as though they no longer exist; no longer have rights; no longer have claims to be as human as us.
In the current issue of of the reader there’s a poem written by a woman about her mother who has dementia. It’s warm, celebratory, about the person not the illness.
Here it is:
I clapped at fairy cakes you conjured
from behind your back, went wild at
party frocks that blossomed bright as
tissue flowers from your mysterious sleeves.
At the school gates, your sleight of hand
produced late homework, dinner money,
eggs for cookery class and spells
to vanish me from Wednesday games.
Lost love and heartbreak turned to smoke
and mirrors at your touch, loud laughter burst
like brazen rabbits from your hat and
peaceful doves made homes inside your hair.
But that was nothing to the wonder of you now,
conjuring sense from scattered recollection,
dealing aces from a disappearing pack
in this most magical performance of your life.
Di de Woolfson
It was an entry in a competition for people with dementia or their carers. It didn’t win. For the winning entries you need to look here.
So long as I read and enjoy poetry, I think a bit of Mother lives on in me. The fact that more and more people are waking up to how poetry can be so beneficial for people living with dementia makes me glad. Research into drugs is important, but there is the here and now where people’s lives can be improved by something so simple. and I am so pleased that by chance it was something I realised helped Mother and which made her life better.