written about and for my mother, Ellen. 1924 – 2009.
Here you sit, touching eighty-five.
Confused, smiling, sometimes vacant.
To the passing stranger, perhaps
Sad, even insignificant.
Alzheimer’s has you in its vice.
You’re here and yet you’re not;
Your mind has been assaulted;
Devastated, and left to rot.
What secret place do you dwell in?
What thoughts cause you to smile?
What prompts your mumbled words?
Do the clouds part just for a while?
You seem to flit from frown to smile,
Emotions borne of thoughts that
Are spent before they can begin;
Worry defused, attention zapped.
Growing up in rural Ireland;
A mother stolen by TB;
A father stern and burdened;
Love, a precious commodity.
A life spent in care and toiling;
You worked your fingers to the bone;
Nursing, cleaning, for little pay;
All to provide a loving home.
What’s the sum of so many years?
Viewed by what this world believes,
A person of no great substance;
No wealth, power, or prestige.
No prompt to history’s footnote;
No rumour of impropriety.
Not even fifteen minutes’ fame;
No infamy of celebrity.
Yet in His eyes a shining star.
You understood the Gospel call –
The supremacy of selfless love –
Your mite transfigured after all.