Friday, December 5, 2014

Understanding Alzheimer's: Where's My Memory?

Taylor Osman, author of "Where's My Memory"
The far-reaching scope of Alzheimer’s disease is almost impossible to comprehend unless someone close to you develops the disease. Once you have come face to face with this merciless foe, you recognize the signs and symptoms even in complete strangers.

Several years ago I was at an enormous craft festival when I bumped into a middle-aged man who had a lost look in his eyes. In fact, he was lost, and I instantly knew why. Before long, his brother found him. He saw me standing there and said, “My brother has Alzheimer’s.” I just nodded. He knew that I knew.

Knowing and understanding Alzheimer’s doesn’t have a lot to do with age. My grandchildren have always understood the devastation and gaping hole that dementia leaves in its wake. Some of their memories of their Grandpa Jim are hazy. Our youngest grandchild knows his grandpa only from stories and pictures.

When one person has dementia, it touches the entire family. My sister, sister-in-law, nieces, and grand-nieces have been dedicated fundraisers for Alzheimer’s. We hold an annual traffic stop, and we stand in the heat, rain, or whatever Mother Nature throws at us. We smile, wave, and thank passersby as we collect for Jim’s Team.

One of the nieces that helps us fund raise each year is Taylor. Recently, my niece Rachel shared a poem her daughter, Taylor, had written about Alzheimer’s. The poem was originally published in Accolades, the student poetry collection. Taylor gave me permission to share this poem on my blog.

Where’s My Memory?
by Taylor Osman

Who are you?
I look and think.
Where’s my memory?
I should know you, but I don’t.
You’re in my heart, but not my mind.
I see and feel your warmth.
I know you just for a split second.
Wait, the thought is gone.
Who are you?
Where’s my memory?
Why is it like this?
A tear runs down my cheek.
What is this for?
I have to know, but I just don’t.
Remind me again, who are you?
Where’s my memory?
My memory is fading away.
I have it one minute, but then it’s gone.
Where is my memory?

Dedicated to all the people battling Alzheimer’s

So what is it exactly that makes some people understand Alzheimer’s when others never seem to get it? Taylor gives us the key to understanding in the lines, “You’re in my heart, but not my mind. I see and feel your warmth.”

When you understand that the heart will remember what the mind forgets, you realize how important it is to spend quality time with your loved ones who have dementia or Alzheimer’s. Your warmth and hugs express your love even when your loved one does not remember your name, or understand your words.  Those split-second moments of clarity when you open your heart are far too precious to miss.

Copyright (c) December 2014 by L.S. Fisher

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