1. 'The Village where people have Dementia-and fun! Guardian report by Jon Henley, 27/08/2012.
2. The UK.
My mother became light as a bird
Her hand, feather-light, lay trembling in mine.
Her thoughts flew, a mosaic of feathers, leaves, papers.
Scattering the sunlight across her puzzled mind.
Nothing made sense, everything hurt.
She couldn't listen, or read, or watch T.V.,
Cut off from friends and family, by government decree
Her cataracts left untreated to economise, so now she couldn't see.
Her tiny hearing aids were far too convoluted for her shaky fingers.
The stinging eye drops yet another humiliation she fought off.
Her bed became her last, best fortress.
Her refuge was the known past,
That stayed a solid island in the rapid currents,
Where she nested far from present troubles,
Safe, at last.
Among the constant strangers she was lost, beset,
Bothered by all the questions and requests.
She flew back into her lost life, where there was still meaning.
The Hospice couldn't have her,
She was dying too loudly, she wasn't apologetic.
And the hospital consultant said decidedly she was 'fading far too fast'
To go to the Hospice round the corner...
Yet not soon enough to overstay, or go long past
The Hospital's accounted care.
So that on the one day the family wasn't there,
They sent her back, down fourteen miles of winding country lanes,
To Dementia Hall, full of disconnected cries and wails,
To the multiple neglects of thirst and utter boredom, the loneliness
Marooned for hours in her stilled rocking chair.
To the harried, gentle nurses from Sri Lanka, trapped in the same Not-Home.
Where they tidied her over...with too much Care.
They phoned us in the deep night, far too late,
From two hundred miles away, to get there for her final journey.
We came instead to say goodbye to the box,
To what wasn't her, the body left behind,
That had cruelly outstayed her wonderfully enquiring mind.
She lay dead still, small as a small, small child.
Her starved bones so profoundly wrong.
Nature is a conspicuously callous nurse.
How could they leave her thirsty, unfed, and suffering so long?
Nor recognise the irony of her frailty, wrapped round a will so strong.
She has finally flown away from a world
That completely lacked compassion and understanding,
That didn't tolerate her profound needs, her confusions,
Her anguished calls to the deaf past.
No-one followed her into her dreams,
We failed to understand how lonely and afraid she was.
To see how much more she was than her night terrors, her frightened screams.
She needed kindness and the right to live in her confusion.
Not a home where 'sleep' lurks in the doped puddings,
And 'sudden death' is tidied into phone calls.
That can't be answered...
Because the caller has already gone.
This post has been read 208 times.