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 https://www.alz.org 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]

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