Tuesday, February 7, 2012


You know that movie? 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'? It seems to be one of those movies that women loved, and men scratched their heads and said, "Now that was one odd movie..."

I can't say I loved it, not really, but it was a lovely movie all the same.

I thought of it today, over at the Alzheimer's unit. There is a man who's quiet and watchful. His eyes are clouded with confusion. He does not know where he is, not really, and he waits to go home. He sits where you put him, and he waits for someone to get him. He is patient and good. He does not cause trouble.

Another patient suddenly roared, "You SON OF A BITCH!!!!" to no one in particular.

The waiting man's mouth went slack, his eyes went wide, and he said, "He swore!!! Ah! HE SWORE!!! Uh oh!" And he waited once again, this time for someone to correct the curser.

He might be in his 80s, but in that moment, he was like a young school boy. I imagine that as a child, he was patient and good, that he never caused trouble. I imagine that his teachers all praised him in those old fashioned report cards that were written out by hand and sent home with the students.

I thought of that movie, 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' as I studied his boy's shocked expression topped by that shock of white hair. I thought of how difficult it must have been for his wife to lose her husband, to simply watch helplessly as he slipped away from her, spinning backward in time.

I thought of this poem.

Backward, turn backward, Oh Time! in your flight
Make me a child again--just for tonight!
Mother, come back from the echoeless shore,
Take me again to your heart as of yore;
Kiss from my forehead the furrow of care,
Smooth the few silver threads out of my hairs
Over my slumbers your loving watch keep
Rock me to sleep, Mother, rock me to sleep!

Those words always seemed so sweet to me, the longing for what was, but today, I stood at the door of a locked unit, and I prayed that time never turn backward, not for me. Not ever.


Coralee said...

To me that horrible disease is a sentence worse than death. I pray that my family, friends, their families and friends, etc, will not be afflicted by it. We all wish for happier more comforting times but we do so knowing we'll be back in the reality of our lives after a few moments of daydreaming. Alzheimer patients don't have that luxury. Bless you for understanding and for seeing, not just looking at, that gentle man.

Bill of Wasilla said...

Hmmm... the comment I left never showed up. I am too lazy to write it again, but it was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Shakespeare would have been impressed. He would have read it and said, "I wish I could write like that."

Anonymous said...

I lost my mother twice, once to Alzheimer and again upon her death. Always in the back of my mind is the thought will I succumb to that horrible disease.