Parkinson's disease takes its toll
|This was originally written for a poetry competition called Pier Pressure. The poem had to be on the subject of 'obligations'. I have also uploaded a second poem ("Commute-Side Dreams" ) that was written for the same competition.
I watch, almost in horror,
As she shuffles, grunting,
Into her wheelchair.
This woman whom I remember
As tall and proud,
Her eyes the only thing
Still revealing her pride –
Cringing at this loss of dignity.
Helped to the toilet,
Her food pulverised into a mush
So that every meal looks the same –
Even then she chokes,
Wretching and spluttering,
Muscles unable to pull together
Even a cough to clear her throat.
I watch, tears stinging my eyes
As she tries to catch the straw
In her water glass,
Unable to drink normally,
Or hold a glass, anyway.
She needs us for her every activity,
There’s nothing she can do for herself.
The worst thing is that her mind
Is still as sharp as it ever was.
She knows that this is happening.
Her mind is caught in a scrap of flesh,
Not really a body.
This woman who recited poetry, sang
And always had a laugh, often the last laugh,
And certainly the last word!
Now she can barely even whisper
Loud enough that you can hear
With your ear right next to her mouth.
Then, feeling guilty, part of me wishes
It was all over – not for me,
But for her.
She has no life, no dignity,
And she doesn’t want to go on.
The indomitable spirit is nearly crushed,
Squeezed out by illness.
Parkinsons taking its toll.
But I go on and so does she,
Because we both are obliged
By our role in society, to live out this parody,
The child becoming the parent
And the parent the child.
Fate always has the last laugh.
This was written shortly before my grandma died of Parkinson's disease.