Movin' On with Nellie: Two poems about Alzheimer’s

(In recognition of June as Alzheimer’s Month, I share two poems. For information about Alzheimer’s please visit where you can learn more about the disease that has an increased impact on families.)

Alzheimer’s and Jabberwocky

Aunt Nono, you have Alzheimer’s. /WHO TOLD YOU THAT?! / MY DOCTOR NEVER TOLD ME THAT! / . . . I MOST CERTAINLY DO NOT!

My mind isn’t the same. / Sometimes my mind isn’t right, / But today it is just fine.

I want to go to sleep  / and never wake up! / Do you ever wish that you could die?

No, no, no . . . I can do THAT  / by myself!

Where did you say  / that we are going?

You know Dorothy  / I have been thinking about coming to see you. / Where do you live? Galveston? /  I didn’t know that.

Oh, I want my mama. / When I left,  / my mama was sick. / I don’t know where she is. / I just want to go home.

You are home Aunt Leona.

I know, I know. / But I want to go to Mercedes to see if I can / find Mama and daddy.

Come here kitty, kitty. / Oh, come here precious. / When I hold my hands out / like this, she comes to me./ I just love that cat!  / What’s her name?

The Purse

She hunts at 6:30 and five minutes later / For the purse with blue ceramic beads,/ Clear nail polish, and broken rubber bands. / Once she handed-out dollar bills with baubles/ Now she finds nickels, dimes, quarters/ To clench in her fist before she drops  / cents into the calved-skinned coin purse.

Alzheimer’s has taken away her electric memory / But her purse fits her fingers, broomstick skirt, / Knee-high socks, and white Velcro walking shoes. / The patchwork leather purse quarters a  / Rescue pad, panties, pen and phone number.

Last Christmas she still signed her name, / Now she asks how to spell Leona.  / Her purse has many answers that she can’t  / Find, her friend’s address and phone number, her / Sister’s hometown, and photographs of / Family, husband, son.

Peering into the empty pockets of her purse / She finds a sentence:  / “Willard loved to cook, you know.”

She’s never at home whether on Edna’s ranch, / Or on Sundays seated in the front church pew/ Baths come last on those other days --not today. / Pink curlers are dislodged before time by itchy insistence.

With purse in hand, sweater lopsided and upside down / On her shoulders, Aunt Leona stands parked / In front of the fireplace ready to visit the / Millers, friends from Mercedes and long ago levees.

--Nelda Curtiss is a retired college professor who enjoys writing and fine arts. Contact her with ideas for her next column at [email protected]