The Long Goodbye
Dedicated to my mother who has severe dementia
Outwardly you look the same:
Hair set and carefully curled,
Matching clothes - usually a touch of pink
Your sometime welcome smile appears, but not so regularly.
You learned so masterly
The correct reply to give;
Your inability to recall covered with a crafted mask;
For us, the hard-to-recognise missed clues.
'I'll have what you are having.'
Made restaurant meals a possibility;
A desire for sickly pink-iced buns
And childish foods became a passion.
Your old friend Music remains constantly in touch.
You beat out the pulse with child-like determination;
You still remember the melodies of pop-song and oratorio alike.
This faithful companion breathes hope into your coming and going world.
But now the earnest gaze betrays your state.
The eyes look, desperate to remember who I am;
Sometimes I find a glimmer of response but
Today you are in another place, a foreign land to me.
One-sided conversations make communication hard.
The nod, the hum of agreement, the encouraging
Body language, that used to spur me on,
Have limped away into shadow lands.
Again from a half-shared sentence you slip into a reverie.
I gently hold your shoulders as I lean, a kiss to give;
You stir, smile and mumble when I say: 'See you soon...'
I wave, you look on; another drifting moment of our long goodbye.