Thursday, March 17, 2011

Do you have a "Dementia Mentor?"

We all need mentors in our lives. I have many (and many of them aren't aware that they are mentoring me). In the past year I have been privileged to care for a beautiful woman with dementia. When I have dementia I want to be just like her. Why? She always had the sweetest disposition, never complained, was always thankful for something or someone, and always spoke kindly to everyone.
While I was away last weekend, she passed away. I don't always cry when my patients die, but I cried when I heard she had died.
Daughter Trisha sent me this poem which speaks so poignantly of the dementia process. 
Forgetfulness by Billy Collins
The name of the author is the first to go followed obediently by the title, the plot, the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,
as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain, to a little fishing village where there are no phones.
Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets, something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps, the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.
Whatever it is you are struggling to remember it is not poised on the tip of your tongue, not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.
It has floated away down a dark mythological river whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall, well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle. No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war. No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.
 (This is where I was last week-end. More on that later.)


  1. So beautiful. Glad you had a respite from your busy life. Sorry for your loss. So appreciate the way you care about your patients. Means so much to the families.

  2. Even the photo takes my breath away! Imagine BEING there! I confess I have the Glacier bug, too, just never really followed up on it like you have! Bless you in your precious ministry! Diane

  3. My dad thinks he's the mgr of the St Louis Cardinals today. I'm still struggling with my dad being different now.
    Thank you for visiting my blog! I lived in AZ too back in the 80's. I lived in Mesa then moved to Tempe. I enjoyed AZ but always come back home to MO.
    Have a wonderful Weekend! TGIF

  4. This was such a touching post! I'd like to save that poem. My Mom had Alzheimers & I greatly fear the same fate.
    I told my sister about you & your blog. She lives in AZ & works as an ultrasound tech out there in Gilbert...not too far from you, I think.

    Your vacation photos are beautiful!!!
    I'll be back to visit.