You're Still Leaving
I wasn’t ready as you began to leave, Mum,
When those awful bony fingers
Began plucking out your abilities,
Your memories, and your character
Taking them one by one by one.
As if to taunt me, they’d replace one
For a minute, or two, or ten…
But then the pickers would pluck them back
Again, without a care; and
Take them one by one by one.
I prayed I could cope with it daily;
Accepting the snatchers would snatch
Again, reaching into your sacred bank
Of treasured moments, and
Take them, one by one by one.
I read and searched like Dad had shown me.
Learning everything I could, so I might be
Prepared, Mum. Prepared for what? For my
Inability to stop the thief stealing you?
As it took you one by one by one.
The crazy thing is you’re still leaving, Mum.
The grifter telling its sneaky story, selling its ugly lie
That you’re still here but the thief waits by your side to
Plunder, pillage, rob. You regress as they grow bold,
Taking you, one by one by one.
Where do you go? To Heaven, I bet, Mum
Like a slow version of Star Trek’s
Beaming station – and at the other end, Dad
And Grampie and Mizzy are collecting them
As they arrive, one by one by one
I’m accepting and without expectation today,
After 11 months apart, your face though older’ll
Be the same – the you I knew, will not.
Alzheimer’s, that thief, has done its job
Taking you one by one by one.
I’ll hold your hands, I’ll rub your feet,
And hug you make you laugh – then hold
Your face in both my hands, til eyes
Locked tight, I reach the well of untouchable
Love, Mum, and refill it, one by one by one.
For in the end it’s all that’s left, all that
Matters and all that mattered. Love.
You can’t make it, you can’t fake it and
The swindler Alzheimer’s cannot shake it.
I’ll love you for us both, Mum. One by one by one.
By Cath Rathbone