As some of you may know, my father has Alzheimer’s, and I currently live with my mother for several reasons, one being to help in his care. Now most people know of Alzheimer’s and have these images of what it is like, often fueled by portrayals from movies and television. And while there is some truth in what is portrayed, as is often the case they are mere echoes of the reality. It is not simply someone being forgetful of where and when they are, with moments of knowing full well what is going on. At least not in my father’s case. Rather it is a gradual loss of identity, until not only is memory gone but the essence of who that person was. They not only forget their past, but their present and the very functionality of life. In a way they are fortunate that they do forget, because though they may suffer they don’t hold onto that suffering.
Sadly for those who share the journey; caregivers and loved ones, the memory does not fade. Our suffering is not so transient.
In recent weeks my father has been showing a quick decline. Whether a temporary issue or the next stage is yet to be seen. This past weekend because of this and some other things I recently have experienced, I found this fact sinking deeply in, to the point that I was this close to tears. I had the desire to share about it on my blog, but could not find the words.
Until this week’s 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups showed up. As often happens, the universe gave me the opening I needed. The prompt: the word LEGACY. This week I stepped away from my usual tongue-in-cheek or pushing boundaries to create a maybe bitter-sweet poem about the meaning of human life that I hope expresses a little of that which I could not before.
Are lives defined, by word or action?
The I who is seeks satisfaction.
What legacy will “I” leave behind?
Of that answer, many are blind.
Am I simply the choices “I” make?
Or the end of paths others did take?
Is it memories of past that the I define?
Or the memories “I” create? The ones that are mine?
And what should happen if the memories fade?
Will the I that is leave no future made?
Is it the children we birth, both human or other?
Or is “I” the I who is, of the future don’t bother?
Why … am … I?