In 2012 my dad left the physical world. During the last few weeks of his 83 years he suffered terribly; it was traumatic to watch and to feel so helpless. In the end, his physical body was afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease which then led to Dementia, and it was the Dementia that finished him off.
Before my dad got Dementia I encountered the disease when I was a teenager through a part-time job in a care home. At the tender age of sixteen I witnessed a few of the residents – who I had grown fond of over the two years I worked in the care home – lose their minds. I saw the despair in their faces; I dodged their violent attacks; I soothed their sorrow. The experiences stayed with me.
I have often wondered what it must be like to forget your life. On the one hand, to forget all the suffering and trauma and loss that may have occurred during a life must be a relief because these things can affect our every thought, feeling and action, but they are what make us.
To forget who the person is that sits with you and talks to you like they have known you their whole life must be daunting. I can’t imagine how that feels but I know what it is like to have your father look at you and, for a moment, he isn’t sure who you are. Thankfully, my Dad passed before he forgot his family altogether.
The worst thing for me was seeing how emotional it made him. Never in my life had I seen my Dad become emotional – he was from the generation that held it all in – and to witness him cry like a hurt child was heart-breaking. I figured it was a lifetime’s worth of tears trying to escape before he did.
I wrote a Flash Fiction piece recently in second person point of view with the theme of Dementia and entered it into a competition, AND WON! Here is the link to my winning story, or you can read it below. http://waxpoetryart.com/phoenix/2018/keedy.html
BEFORE . . .
She leaves the room. Her smiling eyes remind you of beach holidays with your wife before . . . A sigh, heavy with regret, whistles through your nostrils.
. . . she left your embrace before you told her that she was your everything. You forget to inhale until instinct kicks in.
A twinge in your temple becomes a throb and you rub it with swollen fingers. The memory of beach holidays fragments. Eyes squeeze tight to grasp hold, but the fragments dissipate and impart a feeling that floats adrift in a sea of electrical impulses. The feeling is joy, but it won’t connect to anything.
Your mind and your life no longer synchronise.
Confused, you glance at the table beside you: Reading glasses, plate of Hobnobs, mug of tea – someone must have brought the tea and biscuits; folded piece of paper; and a photograph of you, middle-aged, standing between a beautiful blonde and a younger woman who resembles the beautiful blonde. Turquoise, frothy waves ribbon golden sand in the background.
The beach? A memory almost returns.
Your trembling hands grab the paper and unfold it, clumsily. Jerky, disjointed handwriting reads: Remember. She is your daughter, Sarah.
Your brain’s electrical impulses radiate from centre to edge, drawing your eyebrows closer.
Neurons cluster, light up and connect. Your gaze returns to the photo. Familiarity of the beautiful blonde, younger woman, and beach cause neurons to light a path to your memory, like a runway at night-time, and . . .
. . . you remember: The young woman with smiling eyes who brought the tea and biscuits reminds you of beach holidays with your wife. The woman is your daughter, Sarah.
You sigh, filled with regret, but joy too. You are not completely alone, you still have your daughter.
Love and Peace 🙂
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