To Be Remembered
By: Michelle Remold
This week, a friend of mine was telling me about a book of poetry she was reading. The book she was reading was titled Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude. She had mentioned that there were a few poems about Alzheimer’s disease that she thought I would enjoy reading. While I enjoyed all of the poems, there was one that has stuck with me. The poem is Sitting with Grandma by Gail Rixen.
The last stanza of the poem is what has stuck with me this week. It reads “I am sitting here now as you doze, not in case you remember me, but because I remember you.” I couldn’t believe just how much this last stanza of the poem rang true for me.
We would visit my grandpa every weekend. Even when he slept most of the time, I would still go with my mom to visit him. Even when he slept, we would spend at least an hour sitting with him and would reminisce about things he used to do with us. We would even send him postcards when we went on trips, not so that he would remember us, but to show that we were thinking about him.
In thinking about the poem, I realized that I didn’t go visit him in hopes that he would remember me, but instead because I remembered him and everything he did before and visiting him was a way to be with him and to relive the moments and create new memories of him that one day would become invaluable.
I still think of my grandpa the same way I did when I was younger. Even when he no longer knew who I was, I would run to him, take his hand and we would walk together. Even as I got older, whenever I would talk to him, he would smile. I would sit with him and tell him about my week and everything that was going on. I never was hopeful he would remember my name, but I talked to him just like I would to anyone else.
There is no doubt in my mind that deep down he knew me, but when I read the poem it made me really think about my grandpa. The poem made me realize that everything I did for him and with him as the Alzheimer’s progressed was not done in hopes of him remembering me, but was done because I remembered him in a way that would never be replaced.
The poem came from: Beloved on Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude. Edited by Jim Perlman, Deborah Cooper, Mara Hart, and Pamela Mittlefehldt. Published by Holy Cow! Press, Duluth, MN 2009.
Michelle graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with her Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology: Social Sciences and a minor in Family Studies. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Aging Studies and Nursing Home Administration from Minnesota State University Mankato.