|There is but a shadow, a wisp, a hint
of the vibrancy she once possessed.
The grip and the hugs are still strong,
desperate almost, as if clinging to hope.
But the mind, ah, the mind slumbers.
There is a flash of unsure recognition,
a quick hug that gets even tighter
when I call her “mom” and tell her my name.
“It’s so good to see you,” she says,
the first of the score of times
she’ll tell me the same this afternoon.
“It’s good to see you, too, mom—you look great.”
She who once was always the first to talk,
must almost be prompted now to speak,
and most often repeats what she just heard.
“You’re still strong,” I tell her.
“I’m still strong,” she says.
She enjoys a ride in the car,
perhaps an escape from the routine.
She still eats well, if a bit messily
since her dentures were taken away
to prevent the manic behavior and drooling.
She enjoys going for walks, slowly, silently.
She loves holding hands.
She rocks back and forth as she sits on her bed,
and cocks her head close to the pages
of the book I brought, and reads in a clear
but halting voice, looking up after every few sentences,
as if seeking approval that she read well.
But looking up makes it hard to find her place,
and she reads the same paragraph aloud three times.
She always loved to read,
and seems to enjoy it still,
although it’s hard to tell now
if she really understands what she reads.
I know she won’t remember it.
I consider wryly the title of the book I gifted,
“It Is Better to Look Up,” inspirational quotes,
as she who once faced boldly all who crossed her path,
now keeps her gaze mostly down, within herself.