Mom and Julie have started an editing company: "Stone and Jules." Mom loves the double entendre. She thinks that Julie's typing skills and their shared love of the written word will be a winning combination. I called her from my little getaway last week to tell her I would like to give her some of my poems to work on for me.
mom: (very serious) "I didn't know you wrote poems"
me: "well, they're more like songs, really
mom: "well I'll have to see if I have any poems that could be songs too."
me: "I think we'd make a great team."
mom: "You know, we could make a play about this whole thing. you should be writing this all down."
me: "You know, you're right. I will do that."
She was so thrilled I was "taking some time for myself." And then she proceeded, elegantly, and with wonderful dynamics to read me a poem of hers. Well, actually she isn't sure if she wrote it or if she has "re-worked" it. But she still takes such joy in the telling, the singing, the performance. I could tell she was punctuating the good parts with dramatic sweeps of her arms:
Dear William Shakespeare,
we are intrigued by all the stages of your world,
(as well as ours) where matters of imagination
like the tides of war, still play through melancholy
and deceit. Reports just in reveal there are yet kings
and governors who cry after each intermission "places
everyone;" and then deliver with offensive contumely,
excuses for another war including horrors like the
concentration camps foreshadowing more centuries
of greed, dark fears, pathetic cries "give us some light!"
Alas poor Yorick and poor Hamlet too,
and yes, dear Bard, alas for everyone like me
or you. Long hours of indecision, rude remembrance
mock "can this be all?" and were you serious
in claiming nothing good or bad exists without
the thought that makes it so? How do we know
which minds may yield to fear and set the stages
of the world for war and then more war?
Lives there a man able to play Polonius and keep us
steady in the winds?
We search for words whose shadows dance
where light has always been as real as music
in the cosmic sphere. Who dares interpret how
one touch could redefine our very center
and circumference, redeem the purposes of life
or prayer and poetry? The search continues, noble
Bard, for the divinity that shapes our ends, the
Word itself that beards the conscience of all kings.
(i think there is more, but it may have gotten lost in the piles and piles of papers mom shifts through each day)
And just like that, even though mom has no idea what's going on in the outside world, she has felt the pulse.
It breaks my heart a little bit each time I leave, and a little bit more when I see her again. I know this won't end well. So I am savoring the good stuff, and hoping, hoping we can somehow sustain our hodge podge system.
I am so grateful to all of you who comment about the stories that I tell here. I'm not quite sure where they will lead. But I am writing them all down. There is a lot that I cannot share, but perhaps I will find a way to delve a little deeper in to our strange world.
I do know that almost everyone I know, and everyone I meet has similar stories tucked somewhere. And I do know talking about it helps. Dementia touches everyone.
I have been so lucky to find some beautiful soulful caregivers to be with my mother. They have embraced her idiosyncracies. They will patiently have the same conversation, sometimes twenty, thirty times a day. They have laughed and joined in her singular silliness. And responded with amazement at her selflessness and love in the face of debilitating pain, and frustrating physical circumstances.