The best of days are days like these,
when my grandchildren come to visit.
I play catch with vivacious little Timmy, laugh
with Isaac when he sticks the wooden spoon
into the bowl of flower and milk and dust
and I sit and drink tea with solemn,
sweet Abbie while she reads a fairytale and
frowns at baby Pam when she shrieks with joy and I
wonder how life could get any better than this.
Peter comes home, my Peter who
waited for me before school every day, even
when I teased him by riding with Bud McKenzie,
my Peter who’s been beside me
for fifty years, and still he surprises me. The smoke alarm
interrupts his story, and I fret because how could I forget
that meat loaf was in the oven?
But my Peter takes my hand
and we go out to dinner instead.
The doctor talked to us yesterday
in that cold white room. Peter held my hands
to warm them up, and the doctor said he was sorry
to say he thinks I have the beginning signs
of dementia, so as soon as we left we called
the kids, and I looked around at our house
and started going through years of clutter
because soon I will not remember…
My son’s girl…Abbie? Yes, Abbie
spends the night for her birthday, for
I think it is her twelfth birthday, and she
asks me why there is smoke in the kitchen,
but I don’t know. She opens the windows and the oven
and says I must have been baking a cake for her
but I never baked a cake for…my son’s little girl.
I do not understand why they will not
let me go home tonight. I hate this place
with moving beds, needles hooked to arms, and
strangers coming to poke at me. Peter holds my hand
and his eyes are full of love, even when I snap
at him, so it must be okay here.
These are the worst days, when people
come to visit, with cards and pictures
and sad eyes. Today I remember, but sometimes
I forget their names, the names of my own babies,
and I am mad at myself for making them sad.
I am so afraid. That old lady in the bed next to me
keeps talking to me, and she knows my name
but I never told it to her. My brain is trying
so hard to think—be quite and leave me alone!
The young man with the funny white jacket
tells me to eat my dinner because I’m losing weight but
what is he talking about?
I try to sit up in bed, but I cannot remember how
to move, and I can feel the end creeping up, but
I’m not afraid, because my Peter is here.