Lost for Words

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Haibun Monday #11: Reach Out

Five years ago, I could still call Mum on the telephone and have a conversation. She knew my name. Told me she loved me. Shared a joke or two. I’d go down and help out when Dad was in hospital and I’d introduce her to new veggie foods – Dad was a lifelong meat eater – or take her out. I noticed she sometimes searched for words – but don’t we all?

After Dad died, she was diagnosed with Pick’s disease, a type of Lewey body dementia: she has slowly slipped away, word by word, until language no longer has meaning. I talk to her and she smiles, but I can only hope she understands.  I wrote this haiku last year, when her ability to communicate was hanging by a thread.

Although you’re fading,

Your smile is familiar –

Just your words are lost.

© Kim M. Russell, 2015

Mum and me

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26 thoughts on “Lost for Words

  1. This is a beautiful telling of the change that comes over one slowly, with this disease. To lose the words. To lose their meaning. I hope that when you mum smiles, it means she understands the tone of your voice and feels the love. Perhaps that’s why when we listen to music, we find ourselves swaying — it is the feeling of the sounds.

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  2. Oh how this wrenches my heart. My mother has Alzheimers. These dementia diseases are so cruel. Sometimes my mother remembers things, sometimes not. Right now, she still knows me and that we love each other. The picture is so precious. When she smiles, don’t try to analyze them, just treasure them and file away in the Smiles memory box. Bless you both. Thank you for responding to this prompt with this beautiful take.

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    1. Not only my mum, my grandfather ( her father) had dementia and her grandmother (on her mother’s side). She’s in a home over a hundred miles away so I can’t see her as much as I’d like to. She was so beautiful and funny and now there is only the occasional flash of her, but I know it’s still there.

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      1. My mother is 11 hours away but I call her twice daily. My great grandmother was hospitalized with dementia but no one else in the family. I am glad you can still see those flashes.

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  3. This is so painful….to see the same face, the familiar smile, but know that communication between the two of you can be no more. This makes me realize how important it is to communicate with those we love while we can. We don’t know what is around the corner….for either ourselves (horrors) or the others in our life.

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  4. I share this experience with you as every time I visit my 95 year old mother she has slipped further and further away from me. Even though I worked with dementia throughout my nursing career, it is so different when it is someone you love. My philosophy is–provide them with one happy moment after another. Truly living in the present. Sorry you have to go through this long, drawn-out experience of loss.

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    1. It seems to me that so many of us have parents with dementia. Even though I saw my great grandmother go through it and then my grandfather, I couldn’t believe it when it happened to Mum. Thank you for your kind words, Victoria.

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    1. Thank you, Grace. The woman in the background is one of my father’s sisters – she took me on my very first holiday with her boyfriend and his dog, which was very unusual back then. The dog peed on me!

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