Dementia is a horrible disease. Stealing the mind before the body is dead, that’s just cruel.
In this poem, I combine memories of my mom, my love of gardening, and the ravages of dementia.
I’m in there too. I’ve destroyed a few gardens in my life, thinking I was having fun.
Playing in the Dirt
I sit on the weathered wicker swing,
suspended from a gnarled grape harbor.
My dangling feet blend rosemary and thyme, like a ballet
of ten fairies over a bed of perfumed mint.
I snuggle in mom-made pillows, with her
captured scent from distant decades.
Earth’s forces battle about me.
Brittle morning breeze, robe snug.
Intense rising sun, robe loose.
The gray dawn splits open with rays of pure gold.
Glory to the gladiator of creation.
Again, he redeems darkness for light.
I watch as my dad saunters, unsure of his steps,
His body says eighty, him mind only eight.
Time has no power when life has no pain.
For hours he frolics, for hours he plays.
He frisks the pea pods, steals their gems,
He spit bombs ant hills with tomato seeds,
Pokes for carrots, crops their tops,
Thumps the melons, bowls down lanes,
Digs sleepy spuds, gauges eyes with his spade,
Serves delectable mud pies, hits the crows flying by,
Plucks the marigold blooms, threads a lei for his head,
He’s free to exist where nothing else matters.
He surveys his garden. His knees bend him to the dirt.
The tears on his cheeks reveal a moment of clarity,
a lifetime of sin.
Like the serpent in Eden, he destroyed what was good.
Rain falls from heaven, a cloudburst of grace,
He stands strong in its flow, refusing to hide.
The divine tears soak his bones. I see hope in his eyes.
A prism of brilliant colors arc the evening sky,
Glory to the gladiator of creation,
Again, he redeems darkness from light.
With his momma and daddy enjoying a brief getaway in Austin, we took Eli on a road trip. Thanks to the Gilbert family, we had an adorable beach house near fun sightseeing spots, perfect playmates for Eli with their three wonderful children, cat and dog, and entertaining adult fellowship with delicious food. It just doesn’t get better than that.
But then it does because I learned a thing or two along the way. Once again Eli was the professor in the classroom of everyday life.
Did you know that trashcans are just as exciting as exotic fish? It’s true. We spent one morning at the Aquarium of the Pacific observing fascinating sea life and Eli is pointing out the pictures on the trashcans.
The same lesson came at the beach. He had the grandeur of the ocean waves and he had the water puddles from the recent rain. Both delighted him.
Oh to be like a child. We don’t need the exotic, the expensive, or the best of everything. We can, and should be, satisfied with the simple things of life.
We drove the six long hours because we anticipated a grand time on the beach with our grandson. He disliked the hot sand burning his feet, the wet sand sticking to his feet, and the freezing cold Pacific water splashing against his feet. I think it’s safe to say that Eli will not be a beach bum. But once again, he taught me what I needed to know.
Only a soul at peace can sleep in the midst of chaos. All around us were a gazillion squealing kids, surfers in front of us, volleyball games behind us, adults partying, sea gulls diving into the water or landing beside our towels, balls and Frisbees flying overhead, wind blowing and sand flying.
But at the beach, sleep comes easy because drowning out all the chaos were the steady, unending, unchanging waves and wind. I need to remember this. God’s power and presence could drown out all the craziness of my life if I would simply listen for Him.
The lesson couldn’t have come at a better time. Before we arrived home, our phones began to ring and each call brought more heartbreaking news.
Praise God, we are sleeping sweetly in His steady, unending, unchanging Presence