I Have Not Lost My Mother

Like so many others, I am watching my parents age. My father, at 85, is remarkably healthy. My mother, 84, is not. She has Alzheimer’s, basically bedridden and entirely dependent on help. We live four hundred miles apart, which makes it difficult to be with her as much as I would like. My heart aches when I think of strangers caring for her instead of me. Even calling her on the telephone is an ordeal that involves alerting nurses and making two separate calls, only to yield a brief conversation with very little information. However, I have friends whose mothers have already passed away, and I know they would cherish one more chance for even this tiny interaction. So I wrote a poem. When I read the title to my mother, she said, “Oh, it’s a happy poem.” I replied, “Yes, it is.”



I have not lost my mother
I have not said goodbye
We have not closed the coffin
Though part of her has died.

My mother can’t remember
She cannot name my kids
She cannot tell me stories
As she so often did.

My mother nods and listens
She smiles and says she’s fine
She lies in bed and mumbles
And mostly waits for time.

Her heart is beating wildly
Her skin has torn away
She’s not afraid of dying
She lived her life her way.

But Mother’s eyes still sparkle
She still can say my name
She tells me that she loves me
Her touch still feels the same.

I think of that good fortune
I tell myself I’m blessed
I know she won’t remember
I know I won’t forget.

I have not lost my mother
I have not said goodbye
But when we close the coffin
A part of me will die.

Karolyn Sherwood
October 2018

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