Alzheimer’s

My wife and I have always been, for lack of a better word, loners. We have children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters that we dearly love. But we have always been nomads and spent our entire lives enjoying the company of each other. We are the best of friends. I wrote this poem quite awhile ago after watching a family member suffer from dementia. For my wife and I, our greatest fear would be to lose our memories of each other.

Alzheimer’s

Please old man you must let me be relieved

Let me go where I will not be abused

Old man you know it’s me they have deceived

My mind is silent waiting to be used

My memories, they are fading faster

It is my sadness that has been released

Old man you know that you are my master

Oh please…why won’t you let me find some peace?

So I will go to join their procession

But first there is someone that I must seek

She is standing, in love, right beside me

But our fingertips just don’t seem to meet

Her hair burns bright with the color of fire

She is standing in the night beside me

Is it my mottled mind, am I dreaming

Or is it that I just need to believe

A Visit to the Doctor

The lobby of the Mountain View Family Healthcare was clean and well lit. There was music playing in the background and a vase of brightly colored flowers sat on a small wood table just to the left of the entryway. The room was warm, inviting, and smelled a little like Magnolias; it reminded me more of a boutique than a doctor’s office. I smiled and thought what a nice touch. But I bet it cost them a pretty penny to keep fresh flowers here in the dead of winter in the middle of Montana.

At the counter, the receptionist, a very cute little blond of about twenty with a very large smile and a name tag that read Nancy asked, “How may I help you today?” Her voice was pleasant and it at least seemed to me that she genuinely cared about my welfare. I immediately decided that I liked her and I would make a point of telling Dr. Johansen so.

“Brotherton,” I replied. “10:00”

She quickly flashed her fingers across the keyboard in front of her and looked up to make eye contact with me, that huge smile still spread across her face. “Why yes, Jerry. It looks like we have all the information we need. Please have a seat and someone will be out in a moment.”

     Everybody is so friendly here. I thought.

After a bit of small talk with her, bordering on flirting, I turned and stepped through the archway and into the waiting room. Holy crap what the…, it looks like every sick person in town is in here. More than a dozen people nearly filled all the chairs along one wall. They stared into space, with oozing red eyes half closed from God knows what kind of diseases. They looked like some kind of zombies from a sci-fi channel horror movie. They had their hands stuffed with wadded up tissues and I could almost see the millions of germs flying around the room from all the coughing, sneezing, and hacking going on. A middle aged redheaded woman with too much makeup was struggling to keep a child on her lap. The kid was screaming and she looked like she was just too worn out to even care. In the corner under the television, several toddlers were playing with a small plastic box filled with toys. Small bubbles of mucus puffed from their noses as they breathed. They wiped their green slime onto everything in sight.

I was limited as to the seating arrangements but I managed to squeeze into a seat between an elderly man with an oxygen tank and a teenage boy with his left arm in a cast. It was as far away from the zombies as I could get and I figured these two were the least likely to be spreading influenza, or cholera, or the black plague. I sat there staring at my shoes and making a conscious effort not to breathe too deeply.

     What a giant waste of time, they could’ve just sent me an email with my results. I guess that would be too easy though. If they did that, they wouldn’t be able to bill the insurance for another office visit.

After what seemed like an eternity of reading ‘Field and Stream’, ‘National Geographic’, and ‘Clifford, The Big Red Dog’, all the while a constant exposure to a myriad of life threatening diseases that have no cure and could turn my mind into mush; a short, black haired nurse finally stuck her head through the doorway of the waiting room.

“Jerry,” she said in a lifeless tone not even bothering to look up from her clipboard.

     About freakin’ time.

“Here!” I said, so relieved to be rid of my germ-infested neighbors I nearly knocked over a table as I all but ran toward the door.

“Follow me please,” She said, still staring at the chart in her hands. She walked briskly down the brightly lit hallway and nodded her head toward an open door. “Please remove your shoes and step onto the scale.”

     I sure hope my feet don’t stink too bad.

“Okeydokey, are you having a good day?” I asked, trying to engage her in some friendly banter.

     What a real sour puss. Would it hurt you to smile once in a while?

She still hadn’t looked up from her clipboard and made no indication she’d heard me or was even willing to give a reply if she had.

     I could have three eyes and a horn coming out of the top of my head and I bet she wouldn’t even notice.

She quickly flipped the blocks across the scale and jotted a few notes on that precious chart of hers.

     265 pounds! What the hell… man this thing isn’t even close.

She moved the slide up and took a quick measurement of my height. “Five feet, nine inches,” she mumbled to her all-knowing clipboard.

     Well, at least she got that one right.

She led the way to another room farther down the hallway. Her white shoes made no noise on the brightly polished floor. My shoes however seemed to echo through the building like a tap dancing elephant on steroids, playing with a squeaky toy.

     I have to remember next time to wear tennis shoes.

She motioned with that damn clipboard of hers for me to have a seat on the edge of the examination table. She checked my heartbeat with a stethoscope that she’d obviously stored in the freezer. She proceeded to take my blood pressure, nearly squeezing my arm in half and jotted some more notes in that damn top-secret chart.

“Can you supply a urine sample?” she asked.

     Actually, I had to piss like a racehorse.

“I guess so,” I said, “but I just gave one last week. I’m only here for the results of my physical.” By now I’d given up all hope of trying to engage her in any type of friendly conversation.

“It’s just routine…nothing to worry about,” she said, finally looking up from her precious clipboard. “Please come this way.”

     Something smells a little fishy in the steak house, if you know what I mean.

“No problem.” I said.

     Sure, let’s just bleed me for some more money. Maybe they should put in one of those rides like at the carnival, you know, one of those that turn you upside down to shake the coins from your pockets. At least I could have a little fun while going broke. Maybe that way, they could afford to get a scale that actually worked.

I followed her down another hallway to a bathroom where she pulled a cup from the cabinet and opened a sliding door in the wall. “When you’re finished just place the cup in here and shut the door. Return to your room and the doctor will be there shortly.” She opened the door to leave but suddenly turned. “And you have a nice day, Mr. Brotherton.”

     Hey, maybe she’s not so bad after all.

I made my way back down the hallway and I heard a familiar voice drift out from a half opened doorway, “Please remove your shoes and step onto the scale.”

I laughed.

     I wonder how many more of those poor, three-horned creatures are going to be squeezed, prodded, and herded into their little stalls, with their information hidden from them on other little secret charts.

Crochet

Red, orange, yellow, purple, blue and green;

The colors flow smoothly from her fingers

A rainbow of yarn like I’ve never seen

So absorbed in her I stop and linger

 

With every twist of her agile wrist

I watch intently as the afghan grows

Without looking, she creates every stitch

Then carefully crochets them into rows

 

The weight of it on her is comforting

Its warmth blocks out the chilly winter air

Still I can’t keep myself from wondering

Will it soon be too much for her to bear?