The Uninvited Guest: Four

I don’t recognize this woman
who claims to be my mother.
She looks like my mother
though older, more frail.
Her hair is whiter
so too her skin – it is whiter
more pale, like crepe-paper;
ashen, lacking life.

This woman says she’s my mother,
remembers things about me
that only a mother would know.
She knows me –
but doesn’t understand me.
We seem unable to communicate
in any meaningful way.

This woman, claiming to be my mother,
this woman who knows me,
seems unrecognizable to herself –
to me.
She is lost somewhere in time:
half in the present,
half in some distant past.
Sometimes she straddles time:
speaking in the present tense
of something that happened
long ago.

This woman who looks like my mother
is my mother.
At least as close to being
my mother as she can be
Without actually being
my mother.

This woman before me
is my mother.
She is worn by time,
scarred by life.
In body, she is my mother.

But within the woman she has become
the woman I know as my mother
becomes more difficult to find.
The mother I remember her to be
is to be found more and more
only in glimpses, minutes,

Gone is the energy,
the vitality,
the warm, compassionate soul
who believed in the goodness of all people,
not just those with white skin,
not just those who are Christian,
preferably Catholic.

Gone is the razor sharp mind that
could balance her checkbook in
fifteen minutes
(a task that now can take an hour or more).
Gone is the tack-sharp memory that
never forgot a slight or grudge –
in its place is a mind that increasingly
finds conspiracy, fear.
Gone is the tactful mind,
that taught me never to use slurs,
to never call names;
in its place is a mind that has been
poisoned by the paranoid,
right-wing media:
fear of lists her name is going to be added to;
dislike of foreigners and anyone with skin
that isn’t as white as hers;
ugly racial epithets that I never
thought she’d say.

The woman who is my mother
is vanishing, slowly,
right in front of me.
The remnants of who she is, was,
are fading, becoming more
difficult to find.


(Originally published on my former blog on February 13, 2016)


The Uninvited Guest is a series of posts about Alzheimer’s disease: mostly from a caregiver’s perspective, as I can only watch my mother deal with this disease. She refuses (understandably to discuss it), so I can’t really write about what she is or isn’t feeling. This series of posts is meant to be raw and honest – so they won’t be polished and proofed – probably only spell-checked. I want to write them while the feelings are still fresh – polishing can come at another time.

These posts will be a variety of forms: narrative essay, lists, journal entry, poem, photo with text; some will be long, others just a few words or sentences. 

Previous Posts can be found here.

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