mum in shawl

Dementia blessings – My wise woman

Today is the first anniversary of Mum’s birth since she passed away in January. Happy Birthday, Mum – this one’s for you!

Mum was always my ‘wise woman’ – the one who listened deeply and responded with compassion and non-judgment. So when I could no longer go to her for advice, I felt cast adrift. But the absence of words revealed her deeper wisdom – the way in which she lived: with serenity, love and gratitude. Observing Mum’s ‘essence’ – that which shone more brightly as her mental faculties faded – I felt challenged to take stock of my own life. That too was her gift.

mum in shawl

My wise woman

Dementia stole
my wise woman’s words
leaving me bereft.
But in their place
was left a gift –
her way of being
in the world.

Watching her sit
in a state of grace
blessing us with smiles,
her open heart
and tender touch
spoke wisdom deep
into my soul.

Dementia blessings 6

mum at piano

Dementia blessings – Embodied Memory

Witnessing the progress of Mum’s dementia made me reflect on how the notion of ‘mind’ has become reduced to ‘brain’ in our society. Even though she eventually lost the ability to remember our names and craft sentences, Mum continued to improvise on the piano until two weeks before she passed away. The embodied memory of a lifetime of music-making had left its legacy. If memory is a whole-body experience rather than just a cognitive process, how might we encourage and acknowledge a broader suite of memories in loved ones living with dementia?

mum at piano

Embodied memory

This well-schooled world reveres the brain
As CEO of MyBody Inc.
Forgetting the fullness of who we are
We measure our worth by how well we can think.

But when the light of your intellect dimmed
Embodied abilities continued to shine.
Your fingers expressed what your words could not,
Caressing the keys, making music divine.

Dementia blessings 5