Out of these five long years spent by you in the relentless grip of Alzheimer’s Disease, when mostly what I’ve known of you is summed up in “disintegration,” I want to remember how you glowed today as we made plans for your dying. Your small, dwindled self lay curled on your bed and barely rumpled the spread, but your face was beautiful, in its ancient joy to see me. You stared up at me in blue-eyed brightness, as you listened, heard, and answered in your right brain, not your wrong one. You smiled and smiled at me, and at the staff that attends your death, and over and over you said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
I asked you how you felt, and you said, beaming, “It’s wonderful!” It was wonderful to have you back among the living for those few hours, after we had signed the orders to let you die. You laughed about eating ice cream for lunch, and you held my hand.
At one point you looked up at me, as I leaned over you saying something to you, and you reached up both hands and laid them softly on my face, cupping it in your hands. We smiled at each other. Were you saying goodbye, Mom? I understood your message of love, and gratitude maybe, or maybe just a cherishing of me. It made my spirit soar. I will remember this, Mom.
After Alzheimer’s destroyed you,
you had one glowing day, clear as sunshine,
when your blue eyes twinkled at me.
Your face was beautiful in its ancient joy.
You reached up and cupped my face
in your hands, smiling and studying me.
It’s wonderful you said, and I knew
what you meant.