Wednesday, December 3, 2014


She left.
And she won't be back.
As if that's not hard enough -
someone came in and took over her weak and sagging body.
Someone nasty and mean
who has forgotten how to be nice
and caring
and where she put her key
and how to reset the clock
and that people aren't things
and where her meds are.
Who has forgotten everything
except some mixed up threads
that don't tie together just right
like her address
or your sons' names.
And it all comes out confused and angry.
And paranoid.
That someone has taken over.
And decided to stay.

As I watch,
confusion also washes over me.
It's different,
but it tangles me too.
I want to run and hide.
To duck, to be out of her range.
To not look and see.
To not witness this cruel game.

But shouldn't I try to be a taste of kindness
in these unrelenting jaws
of this predator part of life?
What of my belief in love?
What of my wanting to live light?
I try.
It doesn't work.
I give up.
And again I try.
I anger her.
She looks down,
avoids my eyes,
mumbles words of frustration,
my heart echoes the frustration in silent screams inside myself.
My bones weary from the vibrations and the watching.

I look at the splatter on the floor between us -
the place where my offering fell.
Splashed on her toes, I stare at her feet.
When did she start wearing those slippers?
How long did it take her to wear those holes thru?
Does she know how filthy they are?
Does any of it matter anymore?

How do we communicate to someone who can't understand?
How do we not become hardened?

How do we honor the one that we loved and manage to survive the one that is here?

How do I become more of who I want to be
rather than less of who I really am?

I think of her toes.
How they've captured it all -
old and worn out, in need of care,
sticking thru the filthy remains of something that was once pretty and functional.

It is those toes I find myself in a dance with.
It is those toes that I want to embrace.
And yet I step on them over and over,
fumble and fall.

Looking again and again for some kind of grace.


diane in AR said...

Oh Terri, this is such a perfect description/poem/offering clearly defining the snaky - scary - misty world of dementia and alzheimers. . . your heart is so good, so kind for trying to be there, trying to help, not understanding - almost helpless, yet still you try. . . sharing this blog post on FB !!

terri st. cloud said...

oh gosh, diane. thank you. i just really needed to get that out. thanks for reading it....

Anonymous said...

My Grandfather had dementia in his last few months. It was brutal, and horrible and what made it worse, i think, for me, was I never liked him much to begin with. All that nasty that was always there in the back of his hand on my face, was there even more, but now it was everyone who came within striking range,
and he was no little man.
How everyone ran, and paid some one else to put up with him and his meanness. The hospice lady, she carried this grace within her, never will I forget... She said " If You can't love God with his meanest face, how can you love him with his most holy?"
I always took that to meant keep trying, and make it about you, and not them.
It didn't work well, but I tried.
You have far more love in your heart than i...
Thanks for sharing this...

terri st. cloud said...

i'm thinking there's no way i have more love in my heart than you, will never forget what the hospice lady said. and you just told me. thank you.

it is about me.
i have to grow me.
and man, oh man, i'm struggling.....

Susan G said...

OMGosh, this is so moving and so very descriptive of a very personal (and unfortunately, also common) devastating, and lonely pain. I'm so glad you walked through the fear and shared this. <3

Lauren Pucci said...

Hey Terri,
That was AMAZING. How you capture my heart and put it into words that make sense never ceases to amaze me. All three of my grandparents had (and one still living with it) alzheimer's. I've always called it the longest goodbye. I think I actually wrote a poem about it myself somewhere along the line. It's so confusing, and painful. I think since I'm once removed from the situation being the granddaughter, I have been able to have a little more compassion than those on the front line in my family. I just keep thinking about how scary and confusing it must be to be trapped in my grandmother's body...her mind fading with each step she takes....then she remembers you out of nowhere....and then she's gone again. But somehow, their dignity must be upheld. Who they ARE, and not how they ACT, must be what determines how we treat them. And who they are will always be a beautiful soul, worthy, and mattering. Sorry for going on and on. This is just an issue that has plagued my family since since I was 8...20 years now. It's for sure the longest hardest goodbye you will ever say. Thanks so much Ter, for sharing your heart and your pain. As rock my world :)

terri st. cloud said...

lauren, i'm so sorry you know this so well. it's really hard stuff. sending you a hug, girl....

terri st. cloud said...

thank you, susan. i appreciate you comin' by and reading it.

margy said...

Thank you for this very important blog - there are so many in the world struggling with this long goodbye. You and those who commented bring that struggle to light and help to bring grace to it. I will pass this on to my sister's adult family homes so that she can pass it on to families and caregivers there - several are going through those feelings.

terri st. cloud said...

thanks, margy! :)