an alzheimer’s christmas story
a poem by punkie
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, except for her spouse.
Just after sundown, he started to pace,
“Take me home,” he growled, “Get me out of this place.”
Their kids now had kids, and they too were grown,
Which left her dear husband and her on their own.
The pair had retired from work they adored,
Stayed active and healthy and never felt bored.
When out of the blue came a dementia disease,
“Bow to my will,” it said, “If you please.”
Away to neurologists for tests to be done,
The news wasn’t good, it wouldn’t be fun.
“Please stop Alzheimer’s from stealing my life!”
He sobbed and held tight to his wonderful wife.
Her grief knew no bounds, she wanted to die,
But she plucked up some courage, and told a white lie.
“We’ll beat this thing, I know that we can,
Together we’ll learn, and make a last stand.”
With heroic resolve, they decided to fight,
Come hell or high water and into the night.
“Now dashing! now, dancing! now, prancing and mixing!
They filled every day with doing and fixing.
They topped up their diet with coconut oil,
plus salmon and tuna – baked, poached and broiled.
As dust that before wild hurricanes flies,
His memories soon vanished like clouds in the sky.
So out to more doctors the two of them flew,
With multiple questions, and worries that grew.
And then, over time, the truth became plain:
This hateful disease would drive them insane.
He resisted and ranted, but what could they do
To calm his demeanour – seemed nobody knew!
He dressed in old clothes, from his head to his toe,
His hygiene was poor, he swayed to and fro.
He wouldn’t comply, no food would he eat
So they drugged him and yelled: “Sit down in your seat!”
His eyes-how they cried; his cheeks became sunken;
His spirit departed, he always looked drunken.
He drooled and he soiled, he began to deflate,
“Do something!” She begged, “before it’s too late!”
“We can’t,” said the nurses, “disease is the cause,
He might harm another, or contravene laws.
He poses a danger, a risk don’t you see?
He might break his crown, or decide he must flee.”
“The meds that we give him are for his own good,
It’s not that we want to, it’s just that we should.
Stop your complaining, restrain your behaviour,
We’ll get the job done, you’re not his saviour.”
She studied and researched and discovered new ways,
The answers for which all caregivers pray:
Meet unmet needs, the pioneers said,
Get people off drugs, and out of their beds.
“There are much better methods to deliver good care
Why don’t you all listen? Will none of you dare?
Your system is broken, everyone knows,
It’s as easy to see as Rudolph’s red nose!”
She might have been talking to a brick wall
Her pleas were ignored, the big and the small.
She watched in despair as her husband declined,
The man whom she loved, once so refined.
She was a Vixen, named for one of the deer,
“I’ll stay next to him,” she said without fear.
“He’s my husband, my love, he won’t be alone
I’ll wait here for death ‘til I’m an old crone.
“His hand I will hold, while I witness and grieve,
You can’t tear us apart, I won’t ever leave.”
With that she went silent, no more did she speak
But sat like an angel, for exactly one week.
He died New Year’s Eve, as she lay by his side,
His head on the breast of his beautiful bride.
She followed him upward the next New Year’s Day,
One year and a bit after he’d gone away.
They say you can see them sleigh happily by,
The night before Christmas across starry skies,
Together they ride with a man called St Nick,
To give hope and inspire those on earth who are sick.
© Susan Macaulay 2015. I invite you to share the links widely, but please do not reprint or reblog or copy and paste my poems into other social media without my permission. Thank you.