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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.

 

Jane Craw