In the image above it appears that the son is fading from his mother’s memory, or from her ability to recognize him. It is not that she is fading, it is rather that everything around her is. The image seems to illustrate for us that it is we who care for our suffering parent/partner who are leaving; in reality it she who is failing to capture the memories, the likeness, the image.
It seems fitting then to commemorate National Alzheimer’s Awareness Day (September 21 each year), by offering one of the poems written by Michael Mark. His collection – “Visiting Her in Queens is more enlightening than a month in a monastery in Tibet” – is written in the theme of his late mother’s diminishments from Alzheimer’s.
For anyone who has walked with or is walking with a family member suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia, you may recognize the portrait:
Portrait in Alzheimer’s Disease
It’s like she left and came back with a new haircut
left and came back with a scar
left and came back with different eyes, not
the eyes everyone said we shared
but the scar was gone
and she spoke a strange language and
left and came back without a son and
left and came back and never came back.
Poem from Michael Mark’s book:
This Rattle Chaptbook Prize winning collection is “a kind of family photo album for the final years of a life. As dementia progresses in Michael’s mother, each poem is at once a snapshot, a foreshadowing and a memory. And like memories, each is revealing, accurate, and blurry.”
To learn more about Alzheimer’s go to the Alzheimer Society of Canada.