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Jane’s father Ross was diagnosed with Lewy Body disease, a form of dementia that eventually affected his ability to speak.
Reflecting through poetry was healing for her as she navigated this difficult time.
Jane wrote the following poem about a particularly challenging visit with her father, enabling her to process some of the grief that comes with the many emotions dementia can bring.
Jane’s father sadly passed away earlier this year, but his memory will linger in the words she has lovingly written.
I go in.
He’s down the corridor.
Pulling the curtain,
Pulling the curtain,
I wait, and watch.
He doesn’t notice me.
Nearby another man is banging a door against his head.
A nurse comes and gently leads him away.
I go closer.
Enter into his space.
I’m less than a metre away.
I watch this face.
And my gut is wrenched as I remember and miss so many other expressions on it.
Still his attention is on the curtain,
And I wonder if that is enough.
Of kinaesthetic focus,
To give a sense of purpose,
I bend down, and place my face in his direct line of sight,
For him to
But with mask and hat on,
I take my hat off.
Our eyes meet.
And the smile of recognising one of his people,
Is not clearly present today.
He whispers something.
I cannot hear it,
But I move closer and we whisper some phrases to one another.
I hope there is meaning,
Because the words do not reach my ears in patterns my brain can understand.
Perhaps it is
That is amiss here
Unable to understand
My Dad’s attempt to communicate.
I ask if he would like some music today,
And his hand moves towards my headphones
I accept that as meaning
I am constantly wondering if anything has meaning
I show him some choices
Not really believing that he can read them
Especially without glasses
But I look at his face
I know the right notes will light it up
Like a stage is lit for an orchestra
Even Bach doesn’t get a reaction today
We take a walk
And I know
Because his walk is purposeful
That the music is meetings the deep parts
That wake him up
For a brief time
As I visit
He begins to sing
Even though Holst
Is not really a choral composition
When the soul is moved,
Singing is the way to express
In the moment.
When I leave,
It pierces every time
Because with me come my headphones
And the aliveness,
And I can’t see my Dad
Inside his body.