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Bob Lucky, General Editor & Ray Rasmussen, Technical Editor
January 2020 Vol. 15 No. 4

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Maxianne Berger

Come What May

“Mrs. B, look who’s here.” Our mother’s caregiver waved as my sister and I walked in.

Mum’s familiar, goofy grin welcomed us. “My babies!”

Her babies. While Dementia was two-stepping Mum from home to care Home, these phrasings accumulated. Charming? Yes. Comprehensible? Not always. The blessing of time was that she no longer flustered herself ragged trying to remember specific words. Like “armistice.” Like “Barbra Streisand.”

It was late May, warm enough for afternoon tea in the garden. A week earlier, leaves had barely budded. Mum’s eyes lit up. “The trees . . .” Mum’s joy was infectious. “They’re covered, with green . . . green . . . decorations!” She sat back and sipped her tea. “Mmmm . . . adorable . . .”

And some of her strange phrasings definitely were adorable. Once, at a florist’s, looking at arrangements, Mum caressed the crested petals of a bird of paradise. “I love woodpeckers.”

Doctors call the disorder “semantic paraphasia.” Those were her cheerier days. Before words slipped away altogether. Before meaning dissolved, and only shrieks remained. Eventually, shrieks gave way to inconsolable wails, and those, in mercy, to silence. But that afternoon Mum was her affable self. “Look! Paper dolls!” She pointed out two painted ladies fluttering among the peonies.

the morning chirps
of Black-eyed Susans

is it genetic?
the birds and the bees
of poetic license

with the first robin redbreasts
come what may