Feeding Dementia

This sort-of poem popped out today- a departure from how I usually write:

In Defense of Food Fatality at the Nursing Home

I’m a threat to their residents,
bringer of forbidden foods
that didn’t arrive on the Sysco truck last week
with all the others.

My offerings have not been pre-portioned,
scrutinized for nutrients,
stip-searched for salt,
mashed into denture-proof mush.

Not popped out of plastic with gloved hands
onto plates for these seemingly sleepy people,
their senses arrested in forced dormancy.

I sneak in kalamatas,
braided challah,
squeaky cheese curds,
pumpkin custard,
my mother and her friends never forgetting to put in a new request:

“Will you make my mother’s pickled beets?”

“Bring more frozen custard- the fattening kind from Michael’s, please!”

I don’t spend nights fretting about accidentally
ending someone’s dementia life-sentence
with raw eggnog, a slosh of homemade wine,
or the gob of fresh golden butter that magically
evokes new stories about a long-ago farm.

Mom’s housemates follow me around,
at times groping my pockets
for possible fruits and nuts.
“Whadaya picking these days,” they ask in frozen February,
with hungry minds that have no fences.

At times they proclaim, “You’re an old-fashioned girl,”
claiming me as one of their own,
the bringer of foods that remember their roots,
crisp kohlrabi, rhubarb fool;
sprigs of mint, thyme, and rosemary
turn the blankest stare to a knowing smile.

What person would check herself into an endless sterile death?

Put me in a place where I can pluck apples with worm holes,
dig dirty carrots,
and drown in the bacon fat dressing on my dandelion salad,
if I please.

This entry was posted in advocacy, dementia, holistic health, inclusion, memory care and residential options and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Feeding Dementia

  1. Dennis Kimbrough says:

    From one of the gals who came from the ‘Old Country’, and misses that closeness to food, herbs, life, AND death, THANK YOU.

  2. Mana says:

    Great Poem and story.
    When I would visit my mom in the nursing home we would bring Chinese take out and the other residents would be shouting “soup,soup”…..thats all they wanted at dinner time and very rarely got it…..

    • Megan says:

      Hmm…. that’s interesting. Soup isn’t hard or expensive to provide. I wonder why it was so rare. Did they want some of your Chinese food too? 🙂

  3. Elisabeth says:

    Just beautiful- wonderfully poignant.

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