Care Partnering, Joy, Life & Living, Love, Poetry

nobody knew they were there

Mom napping with her cat Pia Roma beside her at her own home in January 2012
Mom napping with her cat Pi Roma beside her at her own home in January 2012

March 23, 2015:

“Rooster, rooster why so red?
You can’t get me out of bed!

You can strut and you can crow,
But I’ll just tell you where to go!”

I compose the couplets on the spot for our joint amusement. Rhyming is something Mom loves and can still do. She gets a kick out of it. She smiles and rolls her eyes ever so slightly. I start anew:

“Fig, fig I sat on a pig,
He is small but looks so big.

Don’t look up and don’t look down
Or you’ll end up on the ground!”

This time she giggles at the complete and utter silliness of the words. I imagine she is also laughing at the absurdity of life. Later, we hold hands as she sleeps in the overstuffed easy chair and I read a book of Canadian short stories. She looks like I feel: small, vulnerable and alone. But we’re not, I remind myself. We still have each other. It sometimes appears she’s dead to the world when she’s not, so I check in with her now and again.

“Mom? Are you sleeping?” She breathes a barely intelligible “no.” “OK. I’ll just sit here and keep reading.” Silence from her side. I make good on my promise and finish several more stories before she emerges from her semi slumber again. When I feel her stir, I look up from a tale of someone who cycled across the prairies without getting blown to Kingdom come. Mom’s eyes are open.

“Hi Mom.”

“Hi dear.”

“I’m just sitting here holding your hand. Okay?”

“Oh dear. Yeah.” I think she might fall back asleep, but she doesn’t. “I want you to come back home,” she says, her voice cracked and quiet.

“Okay Mom, I’ll come back,” I say. “Why do you want me to come back home?”

“Well, because it’s so much nicer to be there with you and….” she’s having trouble articulating. “I think it’s so much better… it’s so much nicer…”

“I’m here now Mom. And I’m holding your hand.”

“Yeah,” she says. “I’m glad you’re doing that.”

“Can you feel my hand?”

“I can feel your hand.” A pause. “Oh dear.” She sounds worried. I start to sing: “Oh dear, what can the matter be…?” She joins in immediately. She knows the words.

“Oh dear, what can the matter be? Three old ladies got stuck in a lavatory, they were there from Monday to Saturday, nobody knew they were there…”

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17 thoughts on “nobody knew they were there”

  1. I don’t comment often, but want you to know what a difference you are making in so many lives as we face our own struggles and adventures with dementia.


  2. Susan,
    You’ve painted another heart-warming scene amidst a heart-wrenching saga. You know what I love about your interaction with your mom? You help her find the fun in life, no matter what. The rhyming, turning everything into a song, holding hands. I’m not surprised to hear her say that it’s nicer when you’re around. I know that song too, only our version has 7 old ladies. What’s your mom’s favorite chorus? My mom (who is 90) likes Old Mrs. Humphrey 🙂
    Keep singing my friend,
    Anne ox


    1. Anne,

      Thanks. I do whatever I can to make our time together joyful. Like many relationships ours has been up and down over the decades, but this closing chapter has been healing despite also being extraordinarily challenging.

      Yes, I found out about the seven ladies when I looked up the lyrics for the three ladies 🙂 I only learned this song from Mom in the last year or so, even though she’s known it for a very long time. She doesn’t really remember the verses at this point, mostly just the chorus unless I look up the words on the Internet! Anyway, we have fun. And we will keep singing until we can’t sing anymore.


  3. **“I’m here now Mom. And I’m holding your hand.”

    “Yeah,” she says. “I’m glad you’re doing that.”

    “Can you feel my hand?”

    “I can feel your hand.”**

    Susan… you continually grab my heart and massage it w/ your words.

    Stunning. Moving.

    You. Are. Amazing. xx


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