Do Not Ask Me To Remember—Author Unknown
Do not ask me to remember,
Don’t try to make me understand,
Let me rest and know you’re with me,
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.
I’m confused beyond your concept,
I am sad and sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you
To be with me at all cost.
Do not lose your patience with me,
Do not scold or curse or cry.
I can’t help the way I’m acting,
Can’t be different though I try.
Just remember that I need you,
That the best of me is gone,
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me til my life is done.
I was given a copy of this poem at a Alzheimer’s support group I went to with my Mom and Grama.
Grama says that Grampa is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. But the truth is, he’s about a year and a half in. So he’s somewhere at a mid-point. He is still able to remember some things, and he is mostly healthy physically, but he isn’t really himself at all.
We all tried to deny the idea of Alzheimer’s for a while. Mom and I started to notice little things, but tried to say it was the result of other things. Their nearly 16 year old dog had recently died, which sort of left Grampa adrift without someone who needed him in the way a dog does. His physical health had been up and down, and he was having pain in his hips and whatnot. All things that might slow him down and make him disinterested in the things he used to love.
But it wasn’t long before we had to admit to the glaringly obvious symptoms of early onset dementia.
This support group was the most recent attempt at learning what we are going to be dealing with, and how to handle everything. Learning words to use and words to not use. Learning about redirection and the slow decline of Alzheimer’s.
In a way, it’s harder to have an idea of what is coming up with all of this.
In a way, I’d rather be oblivious, and take it as it comes.
But that’s not fair to anyone, least of all Grampa, who needs us to do what we can for him, even if he doesn’t understand it.
One thing that was said today was that, though people with dementia lose their memories, especially the more recent memories, they keep their feelings. They may not know who you are, but they know that you make them feel safe, and they love you.
And that is something I have noticed. The farther this dementia thing goes, the more Grampa has been saying, “I love you” and “thanks for coming over today”. He may not have a lot to say, but he says those things when I am getting ready to leave (I usually visit at least once a week).
These are things he didn’t say a lot before the onset of Alzheimer’s. I never felt unloved or unwelcome, but he didn’t say those words. It’s like, now, no matter how little he has to say in general, he wants to express those feelings and make sure that we know about them.
It’s all about love, the directions on how to talk to him. Love and respect and doing the best for him, no matter how hard it is.
So that’s why we learn.
That’s why we google Alzheimer’s and try to figure out what’s coming up.
That’s why we go to support groups even though it’s hard to hear people talking about their spouses who passed away from complications with Alzheimer’s.
And that’s why we stick with him, talking when he wants to talk, listening to stories we’ve heard a million times, and sitting with him quietly when he doesn’t want to talk.
It’s all about love, no matter where things take us.