Monday, March 28, 2011


I wrote a really long 6 part story about my Dad and Alzheimers a few years back. Over the weekend I got a comment from someone I don't know that takes care of their parent with Alzheimers. People affected by this disease and people blessed to have the priviledge and responsiblity of caring for them in particular or the elderly in general have a special place in my heart. I found this poem a while back and would like to share it here and now. Its called "The Guardian" by Joseph Mills, and its for all of you caregivers.... Past, Present and Future.
The Guardian
I don't think my brother realized all
the responsibilities involved in being
her guardian, not just the paperwork
but the trips to the dentist and Wal-Mart,
the making sure she has underwear,
money to buy Pepsis, the crying calls
because she has no shampooeven though
he has bought her several bottles recently.

We talk about how he might bring this up
with the staff, how best to delicately ask
if they're using her shampoo on others
or maybe just allowing her too much.
"You only need a little, Mom," he said,
"Not a handful." "I don't have any!"
she shouted before hanging up.
Later he finds a bottle stashed in her closet
and two more hidden in the bathroom
along with crackers, spoons, and socks.
Afraid someone might steal her things,
she hides them, but then not only forgets
where, but that she ever had them at all.

I tease my brother,
"You always wanted another kid."
He doesn't laugh. She hated
her father, and, in this second childhood,
she resents the one who takes care of her.
When I call, she complains about how
my brother treats her and how she hasn't
seen him in years.
If I explain everything he's doing,
she admires the way I stick up for him.
Doing nothing means I do nothing wrong.

This is love's blindness and love's
injustice. It's why I expect to hear anger
or bitterness in my brother's voice, and why
each time we talk, no matter how closely
I listen, I'm astonished to hear only love.


Kim said...

This is a powerful lesson on love, Mr BH. Thanks.

bulletholes said...

Yeah, I like it a lot. That last line is great.

Lily said...

yes, that's how it goes

Annie said...

Bulletholes! Hi!

Thanks for your comment, and thank you for this.

Mom passed in October, 2009. I don't know if you knew that.

West Texas Insomniac said...

Thanks, brother. Here's the thing. I'm not suited to be a caretaker. But I think I'm doing a good job. I've been reading a lot about how to do it without losing yourself. It's like taking care of an infant, or a puppy, but an infant that's anti-social and angry and may decide to wander into traffic wearing nothing but a nightgown. Here's what I've learned. Don't try to make them remember. They can't.