My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease a dozen years ago.
She now resides in a Memory Care facility.
She hasn't called me by my own name in at least a year.
This morning was the first time that, when she looked into my face,
she saw a complete stranger.
Hence the poem. My form of therapy, I guess.
I MISS YOU
I miss you, Mom
Even when we’re in the same room.
I push your wheelchair down the hallway to church
And remember our hikes through falling leaves.
I even miss our arguments.
Couldn’t you, just once, tell me to not wear so much black?
That my hair is too long for a woman my age?
That my father wishes I’d take out the belly ring and go back to church?
But you can’t, because you don’t even remember my name.
This is what’s left of your life:
Monotonous days staring at the TV,
Elastic-waist pants the Real You would call “tacky”.
Brave, kind nurses
tending to you in this waiting room of death.
Days, weeks, and months go by
But you no longer mark them off on your calendar.
Your eyes don’t light up when I bring you flowers
Because your love for them faded away.
Your meticulously arranged photo albums
Who are these people?
Someday you won’t even smile at my kids.
I know the day is coming,
But it hurts just the same.
I can accept that you can’t remember their names.
When you call me anything, I’m your sister.
I don’t mind,
At least you picked a relative I like.
But today you looked at me as you would a stranger
And it makes me wonder
Just how bad is this going to get?
And how many other people cry in the parking lot of the nursing home
After every visit?