Growing older is one of the most basic components of human life. Yet for most of us, growing older is a subject we would rather sweep under the rug—out of sight, out of mind, right?
This fear of ageing may stem from many different areas. We are afraid of our bodies slowing down, our faces wrinkling, our loved ones dying, and our minds decaying. We will all experience one, if not all, of these things as we grow older. Despite this, we as humans have the ability to choose how we perceive and react to ageing. We as humans also have the ability to choose how we perceive and react to the elderly.
Dementia is a disease that, unfortunately, far too many are familiar with. It is the slow decaying of the mind. Memories, and knowledge are ripped away from the person, often leaving them in a state of confusion, anger, or depression.
Dealing with dementia can be excruciatingly challenging. Nobody is ever prepared to have their mind fail them, at any age. For family and friends to see their loved one have their mind reduced to the point where they may not be recognizable; this is a fate I would not wish on anyone.
The poem below is written for and about the life of my grandmother who suffered from dementia. It does not focus on the disease itself but rather on my grandmother’s attitude in the face of her battle.
The message that this poem seeks to convey is that aging is inevitable, yes. Yet, we are still capable of choosing how we respond to illness and to ageing.
I am still in awe of how my grandmother lived her life, even after she was diagnosed with dementia. I can only try to live my life the same way.
I saw her in the garden
Knelt down; and by her side
With his shadow he did shelter
The beating heat that struck his bride
With gentle hands she tended
To her wanted fruits and flowers
Strong-armed she pushed the barrel
For the beds of earth to devour
I saw her on the rocks
With her gaze upon the sea
As she led him to the water, cold
No better pair, had found this key
Those were like the days of blossom
Plentiful, everything was gold
I’d often see a shy small smile
Behind the teacup she would hold
I saw her sitting in her chair
Through lenses thick she’d read
Poised, and sharp, she’d tell us tales
A cousin on each knee
She’d marvel at the music
The talent of her kin
Soft sounds stirred her quiet pride
Plainly seen, she shone within
I saw her in the kitchen
Slowly, stirring the steaming stew
Not a morsel would be wasted
As the family grew and grew
Taking pride in all her service
Everyday out in the field
She worked hard, and then worked more
Beauty, in simplicity: revealed
I saw her through the window
She was staring back at me.
Years had passed and he was gone
Now fiction seemed reality
Her whole earth had tilted
It had been flipped upon its head
Though memories slipped and body did slow
Still, courageously on and on she tread
I see her now in him—her son
Of her character, he was well read
Strong, benevolent, and firm in purpose
No boundary to the light she spread
Her children all have found their way
Each learning from her still
All blessed of unique ability
These things, she did instill
I see her in the garden
I see her
Author: Lindsay Russell
Editor: Katarina Tavčar