Sunday, January 18, 2009

One Single Impression -- Fading Memories

This prompt immediately made me think of my mother who suffers from mild to moderate dementia, and whose memory (and memories) are indeed fading rapidly. A few months ago, just after the election, she expressed mystification as to why my father who normally heads for bed by 8 or 9 PM wanted to stay up and watch every minute of the coverage on election night, and was only satisfied to go to bed after Obama had come out to make his acceptance speech. I was astounded to discover that she had no memory at all of my father's interest in and involvement with civil rights issues. Indeed one of my most profound memories is of the Sunday after M. L. King was assassinated -- marching with thousands through our city streets holding my father's hand, singing "We shall overcome" as tears flowed down his face. Although I started out to write a poem about my mother's fading memories, this is what emerged instead:

election night 2008

he sat in his wheelchair all night
transfixed by the flickering screen light
in the magic of the moment
with millions of others,
his heart beating for the tall man
whose smiling wife
and pretty daughters
stood with him.

he had dreamed of this day.
his heroes had fallen
for this day,
when young
he’d marched
for this day.

his body fading
but not his memories,
not the feeling of pride
for a country
making right.

January 18, 2009


Amias (ljm and liquidplastic) said...

Getting to know folks online is a wonderful thing. Joining commonalities are great .. but looking at life, past and present, though your father's eyes, and your mother's surprise -- in such a precious poem is amazing. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

..thank u for sharing ur thoughts & for writing this sensitive poem_it already contains the comments i would like to make..

Bruce Miller said...

curtains of grey light
ripple through the smoky haze;
vinyl pads smolder

spacedlaw said...

Lovely and yet poignant.

Anonymous said...

It's odd the way memories fade. My mother hasn't been able to remember things in the recent past for some time. Now she seems to only be able to remember a very long time ago. It seems that your mother has also lost chunks of her past. You've used fading memories to write a powerful poem about your father. Why not?

Jim said...

Hi Sue -- Your father's memory isn't fading, at least not much. But your memory sure is not fading! Not a bit, it was like yesterday for you.
Last night we watched the movie, The Notebook, again. The wife there had Alzheimer's, you may remember it.

Rachel Green said...

Excellent piece. Though I had no vote in your country's future, he was the one I'd have chosen too. How good to see it from this perspective. Thank you.

Maggie said...

As an aged senior...I can well relate at this time in my life as to how many recent memories will not be retained in my mind as much as happenings from many years ago.
Todays memories come and go ... I laughed as a good friend of mine told me I have "select memory" ... I told her my mind is like a computer hard drive and at times it crashes because of over-load.

Anonymous said...

a sweet slice of life, full of positive and encouraging sights

Beth P. said...

dear sue--
this one stung my eyes
your father's passion, still
mirroring your mother's presence, fading

I also loved the thought of you marching with your father, taking in, on a profound level, his grief and passion to make it right...

thank you for sharing these intimate, universal thoughts.

Geraldine said...

Just stopping by to give you a big hug Sue. I know what you are going through and what is to come (in a measure). It is so hard, it is so sad... Wonderful take on this prompt. You've captured the emotions very well.

SandyCarlson said...

I am teary....for the distance age has created between your mom and dad and for the strange and solitary joy of this victory as experienced by one who fought hard and long.

All I can say is Amen. And I wish your parents peace.

Jeeves said...

First para, simply beautiful. Conjures up wonderful images

Anonymous said...

I am so glad he got to see this happen. Bet he enjoys watching tomorrow, too.

Sherri B. said...

Oh my gosh, this was so moving and beautiful. Thank you for sharing...

Quiet Paths said...

Sue, this is so meaningful to me and beautiful to anyone regardless of their politics, I would hope. A wonderful witness to hope and history. I will be sitting in spirit with him and you watching tomorrow's dream.

Anonymous said...

full and overflowing of beautiful insights...

Anonymous said...

mmmm- That last stanza choked me up. I was already caught in the moments and memories you described in your intro. What a glorious day in history. Enjoyed your perspective looking back as a proud child beside her dad and that poignant sadness regarding the reality of your mom's dementia.
Glad I stopped by for OSI.