Posted by: theodorecosmosophia | January 12, 2012

What Are your Memories?: The Alzheimer’s Song [A Poem]

What Are your Memories?: The Alzheimer’s Song

[For Sue]

the old garden where we sit

is overgrown

with weeds choking with each passing day

flowers  memories  stories

and—terrifyingly—your You

the old apple tree no longer bears fruit

still

it stands tall

roots proudly in the earth

does it

like you

still remember the old days?

what are your memories?

was it

like you

once the bearer of many fruits

mother of many sons?

what are your memories?

“do you know someone who could chop that tree down?” you ask

as if you know that

somehow

it endures

in seeds long-since planted

in other gardens

what are your memories?

i smile

but want to cry

when you ask if I’ll come in tomorrow

and I understand you do not remember

that you can no longer work

that we have not worked together

in years

and there are more questions repeated

questions

that seem to arise

like particles in the quantum foam

then gone

what are your memories?

my meditation

is to answer them again

and again

what are your memories?

my meditation

is to answer them again

and again

what are your memories?

we sit for a long time

in silence

then you ask

what are your memories?”

then only more silence

heavy like the fruit of a dying tree

what are your memories?

you have given me many gifts

taught me many things

but perhaps the greatest gift

we can give one another is

simply to sit

and listen to the same old stories

the greatest teaching

that we listen to one another

even only—and perhaps especially—

when we only ask the same old questions

what are your memories?

i wonder

what are your memories?

“do you know someone who could chop that tree down?”

you ask again

and this time i answer

“no”

its fruit

for me

still sweet

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Responses

  1. Oh, Ted…profoundly beautiful! Thank you for sharing your insight and wisdom with this poem. You have captured the essence of caregiving for people with dementia so lovingly.

  2. Thank you for sharing that. Very touching.

  3. Presence, non-judgement, compassion, authenticity and the joy of love divine and ever flowing. Thank-you.

  4. Many thanks, Christina


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