Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When Do You Say Good-Bye?

The recent announcement of a beloved author's diagnosis of Alzheimer's has touched many of my writer friends deeply. To me he's just another of many who have touched my life to fall to this and similar diseases. I have lost three aunts and an uncle to Alzheimer's and my mother to the lesser known Lewey body dementia. And yes, I worry about myself every time I can't immediately come up with that exact word I was seeking for a story or poem. Because I tend to express my strong emotions in poetry, I wrote "I Don't Know When to Say Good-Bye" when the first of my aunts died, and "A Slow Sinking Downward" when my mother died.

I Don’t Know When to Say Goodbye

What happens to the soul
When light fades from the eyes?

Does it flee the faltering brain,
Leaving the body an automated factory
That makes all the right moves
But produces nothing,
Until finally enough circuits are broken
To freeze machinery?

Or is the soul trapped within,
Imprisoned in a black cell
Where no voice, no light, of reason penetrates,
There to go slowly mad
Before death arranges the escape?

A Slow Sinking Downward

I used to think of death as violent,
Gunshot ripping night, or
Scarlet burst exploding heart
Or brain.

I never thought that death would be
Shedding of memories
And dignity,
One by one—
A slow sinking downward
Into darkness.

copyright Angela Parson Myers 2011


  1. It's sad when a loved one suffers with a form of dementia and ceases to be the same. Nicely written.

  2. I lost my grandfather to Alzheimer's. I completely understand what you mean about the worry that niggles at you when you can't immediately come up with the right word. "Am I Next?" looms on the mental horizon like a spectre. Such a tragic way to be lost...

    I have requested that if dementia sets in, my family buy 7 identical shirts and dress me every day in one that says: "Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." Even if I won't know it at the time, the sentiment will be true.