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We are grateful to a subscriber to The Gift of Years newsletter in Cheltenham who brought this poem by Norman MacNamara to our attention. It is reproduced with Norman’s kind permission.

 

When I wander
don’t tell me to come and sit down.
Wander with me.
It may be because I am hungry, thirsty, need the toilet.
Or maybe I just need to stretch my legs.

When I call for my mother
(even though I’m ninety!)
don’t tell me she has died.
Reassure me, cuddle me, ask me about her.
It may be that I am looking for the security
that my mother once gave me. 

When I shout out
please don’t ask me to be quiet…or walk by.
I am trying to tell you something,
but have difficulty in telling you what.
Be patient. Try to find out.
I may be in pain. 

When I become agitated or appear angry,
please don’t reach for the drugs first.
I am trying to tell you something.
It may be too hot, too bright, too noisy.
Or maybe it’s because I miss my loved ones.
Try to find out first. 

When I don’t eat my dinner or drink my tea
it may be because I’ve forgotten how to.
Show me what to do, remind me.
It may be that I just need to hold my knife and fork
I may know what to do then. 

When I push you away
while you’re trying to help me wash or get dressed,
maybe it’s because I have forgotten what you have said.
Keep telling me what you are doing
over and over and over.
Maybe others will think
you’re the one that needs the help!

With all my thoughts and maybes,
perhaps it will be you
who reaches my thoughts,
understands my fears,
and will make me feel safe.
Maybe it will be you
who I need to thank.
If only I knew how.

Norman McNamara