Facing Alzheimer’s and… the Dying of the Light
I've felt Dylan Thomas' cry: Do not go gentle
...Rage, rage against the dying of the light
as I face progressively advancing Alzheimer's,
aware any reversal or halt just isn't possible.
But raging deeply frightens those I love,
thus I must go gentle into my looming night.
Yes, this old lion must become a barnyard lamb,
accepting the ever growing, inexorable dark.
And without a growl. Not even a hollow howl.
A hard way to go. But, in the end, endurable
if it makes those I love more comfortable.
For, it would seem that's what my feast of life
here, in the dimming end has come to be about.
Once a joy filled youth and man, if a bit wild,
who sang, as Thomas said, the sun in flight,
now its calm smiles and no outward fight.
One time lion or not, I'm to roar no more
except perhaps within the tangles of my mind,
shouting silent defiance, lest others be hurt.
Now I seldom rage inside, thinking less and less
while the inevitable mists blank out my brain
en route to nothingness in the encroaching night,
silent so those I love can calmly tell each other:
Oh, he went easily, gently into the final dark
gliding past the fading structures of his life
he even seemed not to miss or notice much,
the sun in flight ...or his memory as it failed.
Still at times, in frustration, I want to roar.
That's the wicked nature of the thing I face,
a silent, insidious, irreversible thief of self
is taking my past and much of the present, too,
slowly erasing my easy awareness of time
and blanking out the landmarks of my life—
making it constantly harder for me to connect
where I am with where I've been...and my
thoughts with words...to describe or trace
all those wild linkages in my mental makeup
that, magically, effortlessly make me...me.
It's just as in his early poem, Description of Man,
where the Pole, Karol Wojtyla, hauntingly wrote
discussing the abyss not of being, but of thought,
years before becoming Pope John Paul II...
The wefts are deeply entangled...untwist them
...and you will unravel yourself...
My untwisting is labeled Alzheimer's...
with nothing at all anyone else can say or do
...but just be glad they don't have it, too.
In me, no sign at all till I got to my seventies.
And, with a near hundred-year-old mother,
now one hundred plus and pretty sharp,
though sleeping most of the day, slipping away,
I thought I had it made. Truth: till then, I did.
Well, that's the hand I've been dealt to play,
luck of the draw in life's casino, some might say,
no point in feeling bitter or lashing out.
Really, it's just on me now, as I attempt to go...
quietly, into an increasingly foggy, private night
...trying not to rage against the dying of my light.
Still, looking back, I must admit to a pretty good run,
or so it seems, as I feel myself spinning...
spinning ...whirling off into the deepening dark
with nothing now a rational man can say or do,
but pray...if that happens to be one's way. Me?
As I slip deeper into the oncoming, irreversible night
I've made peace within myself and with life as well,
little urge left to rage against the dying of the light.