Friday, June 8, 2012

Bright Little Blackbird

google photo

Laurie's prompt today over at Real Toads is dementia. Whoa, I said. "Eccentric" yesterday and "dementia" today? Aren't people getting tired of everything being all about me? Hee hee. Just kidding. It's a great prompt and reminded me of an adorable little lady who lived at the extended care home I worked at in Kelowna. Oddly, since I cant remember what happened last week, I can still remember her name.

Eliza Blackburn
had black sparkling eyes
just like a little Blackbird.
She carried her 
clunky plastic purse
over her right arm,
as if she was just going off
to the market.
She always wore an apron
over her frock,
as she had all those busy years 
spent cooking and cleaning
for her family.
Her hair was still black, no silver,
worn long and tied back,
a source of pride 
among all the other white-haired residents,
but she was no longer "there"  
enough to know.

Every morning,
after breakfast,
she'd begin. 
She'd come in one door 
of the big kitchen and ask:
"Has anybody seen Jeannie Worthington?"
Jeannie was her daughter, 
who came every afternoon
at four o'clock.
"She'll be here later, Eliza,"
we'd say and, every time,
she'd reply, sweetly,
"Okay. Thank you".

Out the other door she'd go,
then back around, 
popping brightly in 
the first door, to inquire brightly:
"Has anybody seen Jeannie Worthington?"
"She'll be here later, Eliza. 
At four o'clock."

This went on all day.
 In the afternoon, she would be
getting very tired
from all the walking,
all the asking,
all the waiting.

One afternoon,
I gently suggested 
she might like to sit down.
New thought.
She sat, then in a moment 
of rare clarity,
looked at me and
in her eyes I could see she was, 
if only briefly,
in that moment there.
"So what'm I supposed to do with it?"
she asked, with great humor,
and we shared a chuckle,
woman to woman,
at the general absurdity of life.

"Has anybody seen Jeannie Worthington?"
and she was on her feet
and circling,
once again.


  1. It all seems so exhausting. How thankful we all should be for the compassionate people who care for those suffering from dementia.

  2. Awwwww.... at least she was in a lovely place to go for her wanders.
    Gosh, I hope to never end up like that. she seems to have had a beautiful soul, some end up so violent and angry.
    Thank God for people (like you) who care about people like Eliza.
    Such a lovely memory Sherry.

  3. This is it exactly, Sherry. I cared for an Eliza or two myself!

  4. So true, so true - my Mom lives in a seniors' development where there are mostly cogent folks but a few Elizas as well just to remind us that getting on's not all it's cracked up to be ... thanks be for gentle care-givers

  5. A great capture of a heart-rendering condition.

  6. I love have captured this tragic condition with a gentle humor that comforts me.

  7. Sherry, it is good that Eliza had you to relate to. My mother was like that to one of my uncles. It truly is an art and a blessing to be able to identify with the world (somehow) of someone with Alzheimer's.

  8. It is a test of patience and would have been a long day. Initially a shock to those uninformed. Later a pity and eventually a fear. Are we to be afflicted such, sometime later when we are at our most vulnerable? Dread at the thought.
    Great write Sherry!


  9. So true. And thank you for this moment:
    ". . . in her eyes I could see she was,
    if only briefly,
    in that moment there.
    "So what'm I supposed to do with it?"
    she asked, with great humor,
    and we shared a chuckle,
    woman to woman,
    at the general absurdity of life."

  10. You did capture the feeling with a chuckle. It is a sad dance descending into a void...I can't imagine. It is happening to a neighbor I know. It is so awful how she doesn't know her own daughter...
    like a top spun out of control
    Well Done

  11. this is a loving portrait. I very much dig your style of poetry, forth right and driven. It's so accessible and fun to read. You are the Johnny Cash of poems, steady and low like a steam train.

    viva la

  12. Tears...that brief clarity...heart wrenching. Such a sad sick cycle, this unknowing. Very well written, Sherry.

  13. I loved the 'feel' of your poem ... tender and even lighthearted about a subject so dark and painful. For me, the lady in question was named 'Lori' ... she lived in Memory Care with my mother. I called her 'Cowgirl Lori' because she ALWAYS work an old straw cowgirl hat ... constantly asking where her daddy was. I loved her as I loved so many of those residents. I was blessed to feed her a last little dish of ice cream she before she passed away.

  14. I like the story Sherry ~ Too bad, sometimes its a blessing that they are not aware of where exactly they are as it might bring sad memories ~

    Enjoyed the share ~

  15. What a bittersweet memory. If I don't laugh I'll cry.

  16. Isn't that lovely? There were residents like her at Evergreen when Mom and Dad were there: So sweet my brother and I just had to love them.
    Rob's children were small then, and visits from a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old were like gifts for some of the elderly residents, the ones like Eliza.
    Thanks for sharing this with us. It made me smile to remember some of the old darlings.

  17. But she appeared happy in the story. That is good.

  18. gosh, it's hard to read these, i've been pacing myself. yours, sherry, is full of light with the dark just behind. thank you.

  19. sad story of dementia..
    some people report that MCT oil / virgin coconut oil can reduce/cure dementia & alzheimer What if There was a Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease and No One Knew?


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Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!