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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Gentleman Frank

It was a great pleasure to meet you, Mr. Frank.
Glad to see you walking up and down these halls,
Not attached to any bed, wheelchair or walker,
Just gallantly striding in your business wear
As if you knew where you were going,
At times pushing other residents in wheelchairs
As if you were a visiting relative.

You’d stop and chat with me incoherently
And I’d smile and nod my head or ask questions
So you’d know I was listening and interested in your thoughts
Then you’d stop repeating yourself and profusely apologize,
Perhaps realizing your words weren’t intelligible anymore,
Or that I was the wrong person who should hear them.

But who knows what goes on in one’s mind with dementia,
Where memory is distorted and reasoning is impaired?
No one knows for sure, and it shouldn’t matter, I guess.
One can keep on looking for a cat or a sister long gone,
Or tell a story from the past as if it was from yesterday,
Or incessantly ask for directions or what day or time it is,
Or accuse one’s family as thieves or strangers,
Or believe that a perfect place is flooded or on fire,
Or turn into a crying, screaming, kicking child…
As long as one’s treated with love, care and compassion.

Mr. Frank, you will always be remembered
As the gentleman that you once was
Not for your thinning hair and hunched back
Nor your incomprehensible utterances and apologies,
The confused and frustrated look on your face,
And the silent tears you shed.

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