Clinging to the wreckage.

Discussion in 'I have a partner with dementia' started by gringo, Sep 28, 2015.

  1. gringo

    gringo Registered User

    Feb 1, 2012
    I read Mearn’s poem ‘Antigonish’ and thought how, with very few changes, it described my situation. But in doing that it made me wonder what makes me hold on in the face of daily proof that the wife I knew is simply not there anymore. I am obviously capable of amazing self-deception, and the changes are so slow. Wondering about this, I went to our photograph albums. The lady I had just left in the CH. was absolutely not the sparkling vibrant woman of the photographs. She often looks at me with a questioning look, as if not at all sure who I am. We don’t converse anymore, our exchanges are limited to a discussion about when will she be going ‘home’. If I never visited again I am not sure she would know or care. But, even though the essence has gone and she is just a shell, I am like a ship-wrecked sailor clinging to the wreckage of his ship. To mix my metaphors, the cavalry won’t be riding over the hill any time soon, miracles aren’t for us lesser mortals.
    Stupid isn’t it?!

    Yesterday upon the stair,
    I saw my wife tho’ she wasn’t there.
    She wasn’t there again today,
    I wish she hadn’t gone away…

    When I came home last night at three,
    My wife was waiting there for me
    But when I looked around the hall,
    I couldn’t see her there at all!!

    Last night I saw upon the stair,
    My poor dear wife who wasn’t there,
    She won’t be there again today
    How I wish she’d not gone away…

    With apologies to W.H, Mearns’ Antigonish.
  2. cragmaid

    cragmaid Registered User

    Oct 18, 2010
    North East England
    Tears of sympathy for you and your fading wife.xx
  3. Izzy

    Izzy Volunteer Moderator

    Aug 31, 2003
    Like you, Gringo, I'll keep clinging on.
  4. sleepless

    sleepless Registered User

    Feb 19, 2010
    The Sweet North
    Gringo, I don't believe the essence of a person goes. I believe that the ability to communicate that essence is damaged, and the ability to respond to others.
    Maybe I delude myself, but for me it is a good enough reason to never let go of the wreckage.
    I have to add that my husband is not at the same stage as your wife, though it is over twelve years now since diagnosis, and my dad still knows me most of the time, so I am not yet in your shoes, gringo.
    I hope I am not speaking out of turn, or upsetting you or anyone else, it's just what I feel.
    Your poems are always moving, gringo, thank you for posting,
    Sleepless x
  5. Chuggalug

    Chuggalug Registered User

    Mar 24, 2014
    I don't know the original poem, Gringo; but what you've done with it Inexpressible, because it's so full of everything we all feel.

    I'm actually a bit lost for words. I wish I could comfort you, somehow.
  6. Lilac Blossom

    Lilac Blossom Registered User

    Oct 6, 2014
    Clinging on here too xx
  7. bemused1

    bemused1 Registered User

    Mar 4, 2012
    My husband recited the original of this to me many years ago, way way before dementia. I just read it to him, but no recollection. He used to have a phenomenal memory for things he learned when he was young.

    Every little bit that disappears make us cling harder to what is left no matter how much or little.
    We all share your pain gringo. It doesn't make it go away but I hope it lightens it to share
  8. jeany123

    jeany123 Registered User

    Mar 24, 2012
    Well done Gringo,

    Allen often says the original to this, it fascinates him,
  9. Grey Lad

    Grey Lad Registered User

    Sep 12, 2014
    North East Lincs
    So open and honest. Thank you gringo. G L
  10. LYN T

    LYN T Registered User

    Aug 30, 2012
    Brixham Devon
    Mike, as you know I clung on to the wreckage, just barely floating, until I had no reason to cling on. Stupid? No! Heartbreaking?-certainly! We visit and hope for signs of the person we once knew, and when there is the slightest sign of recognition we know that is our reason for continuing.

    In the deepest recesses of our minds we know that our loved one will never improve but who can blame us if we want to bury our heads in the sand. It's our self preservation kicking in. From about late 2010 Pete could no longer follow a plot if he was reading a novel, but I still bought him books just hoping that he would find one 'interesting' to read, but within months not only could he not follow the plot he actually couldn't read the words.But I still tried. There you go- you are not the only one who is skilled in self deception.:eek: What was I thinking? Did I really think that Pete could 'learn' to read again?:eek: That part of Pete had disappeared because of the damage to his brain-but it was so difficult to accept.

    So accept we must-but if we allow ourselves to just once in a while kid ourselves into thinking that things are not so bad-well so be it.

    Your poem was so sad and poignant-no apology needed to Mearns.

    Kassy- I hope that the memory of your Mum knowing you were her daughter stays with you through all the heartache that you have experienced.


    Lyn T XX
  11. nannylondon

    nannylondon Registered User

    Apr 7, 2014
    Thank you Gringo what an honest post exactly how i feel
  12. esmeralda

    esmeralda Registered User

    Nov 27, 2014
    Beautiful Gringo, I know that poem well but now I will always remember your interpretation. It conveys so much about what life is like for many of us. Thank you
  13. Beannie

    Beannie Registered User

    Aug 17, 2015
    East Midlands

    I am reading your post and poem through tears. No it isn't stupid. Like all of us on this journey it is the longing for what has gone and for what might have been. Sending you best wishes for the journey ahead.
  14. truth24

    truth24 Registered User

    Oct 13, 2013
    North Somerset
    That poem is so apt, gringo, but I also agree that there is still, at the moment in Fred's case, some essence of the man left. Although his memory and bodily functions no longer work, he is still unfailingly polite to his carers and helpful to the frailer residents in his lounge and his eyes still light up when he recognises me, so I have a lot to be thankful for.
  15. Gordine

    Gordine Registered User

    Sep 27, 2015
    I know just how you feel.
    Gordon has just been transferred back to Blackburn from Preston where he was finally diagnosed as having stage 3 dementia last Friday. He had been admitted to Blackburn on 24th July for "tests". This came on so quickly, him having been tested and come through it with flying colours only 5 months previously, because of family concerns. Little thing that happened that, to a trained eye may have been picked up, where put down to his age, or just not watching what he was doing, but outside of the home, everything seemed as it should be.
    I have been told today that there is no treatment they can give him and that they will now be discussing his future, that being (almost likely) a care home. He sometimes know me, but not other members of the family and regularly gets visits from his dead relative, some of whom I never met. I get very emotional about this at times and feel like I am grieving for someone who is still alive. But what can any of us do, we can only go on loving the person we knew. He has gone from the most mild mannered and gentle man anyone could wish to meet to being offensive and aggressive towards the hospital staff and at times very un co-operative. I pray for him every day and wonder just what the future holds for us both.

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