The Reach and The Slap: A Poem

She lay motionless, my mother…

Lost forever in the corridors of her clouded mind;

She walked there—unsure, afraid and alone inside…

And reached out to me with hands that had forgotten.

Dementia came to her as a shroud of emptiness

And a thief of life’s lived moments.

I sat there with her, when I could…

I was busy, you see—

Busying myself trying to keep my crazed blur of a life

In motion; walking my own twisted corridors..

Trying to open doors inside that would forever be locked.

Trying to start a new life after leaving an older, hateful one.

I was busy, you see…trying to keep her care in place;

Working so many hours to help pay for her to walk those halls inside her mind…

Going weeks without seeing her and, when I did,

She didn’t know I was her son—just a stranger in her corridor.

An intruder in her mind’s chamber…..

…And she slapped back in her fear.

I stayed busy, you see…because I couldn’t deal with that slap;

It was more than I could understand in my own selfish way…

Until the day the nurse called and said her feet were mottled;

And that she would soon be on her way—out of the corridor.

…so I stopped being busy.

For that moment.

I sat beside her;

Watching an anger and a fear in her face…

She didn’t know me, and worse, didn’t want me there

And told me so with her silent contempt—

…then slowly, and deliberately she reached out to empty air;

Reached a hand that had not moved before,

With meaning and with purpose

Towards the ceiling and something unseen….

The end of the corridor for her.

Then….her hand went down. I reached to touch her;

…and she slapped me away. Her final blow in this life.

That was when I finally found that

She blamed me for that day—

She felt that I had left her

Beside the road along the way;

But I had to work so she would always be safe

…at least that’s what my heart tried to say.

I’ll never go a time

Nor live another day

Without the feeling of that slap

And the price she had to pay…

She raised me as her own, although I wasn’t, she picked me

And how I wished I’d come more to stay…but now she can be free.

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