Saturday, August 3, 2013

"A String Of Pearls" by Linda Austin, Guest Blogger

It's an honor to have author and blogging friend, Linda Austin as our guest blogger. Linda's writing has been notoriously influenced by her experience with her mother who struggled with Alzheimer's. Linda brings in her writing delicate and heartfelt reflections of her journey as a daughter and caregiver of a loved one with dementia. 

Please welcome Linda Austin, author of "Cherry Blossoms in Twilight" and "Poems that Come to Mind." 


 "A String Of Pearls" by Linda Austin, Guest Blogger

The little Japanese woman sat quietly in her wheelchair, her gaze downward. As I approached, she looked up. Her dark eyes brightened and a small smile sweetened her face.

“Konnichi wa, Obaachan! Ogenki desu ka?” I said. Her smile grew as I spoke the few Japanese words I knew. They meant, “Hello, little grandmother, how are you?” 

This was my mother, but in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, she was like a small child in a frail grandmother body“Let’s go outside awhile. The moon is out already. We can look for the rabbit pounding rice cakes on the moon.” 

In Japan, the moon is the subject of many poems, and people enjoy sitting outside looking at its beauty. I wheeled my mother out the door of the nursing home and into the courtyard, maneuvering her chair next to a bench. The evening was warm and still. We sat together, holding hands, listening to the sounds of cars and of birds chirping their good night songs. 

I chatted a little about my day, careful to keep my sentences short and simple. My mother’s thoughts were easily lost in the tangles of dementia. She could only say a few words at a time before losing the rest of her sentence, the words like pearls suddenly falling from a broken string. I settled a blanket over Mom’s shoulders as even in summer she felt cold.

I pointed out the moon shining bright overhead and began to sing an old children’s lullaby. “Mikazuki sama, komban wa. Gitchira, gitchira koi te . . .” My mother joined in. I stopped singing and leaned in to listen. She sang the words over and over, smiling in the twilight, remembering all the pearls.

Crescent moon so high
I hear my mother singing
An old lullaby

Linda Austin wrote "Cherry Blossoms in Twilight" to capture

her mother’s memories of growing up in Japan around WWII.  Her latest book, "Poems That Come To Mind" is in honor of her mother and other dementia patients at the nursing home. 

She says that in the midst of the tragedy of Alzheimer’s and dementia, there are moments of great beauty and quiet joy that we must grab onto and treasure.

Visit Linda's website:


Paulletta said...

this was so beautiful...I will never forget it and I will never look at the moon the same way again....Thank you!

Carole Anne Carr said...

Yes, very beautiful indeed, I love Japanese poetry. Reminds me of the beautiful line from an ancient poem, 'Dragons weeping pearls of jade'.

Cloudia said...


You are a beacon of such!

ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° > <3

Mariodacatsmom said...

What a beautiful and inspirational post. I can relate so well because my mother suffered from the same awful disease.

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Linda,
That was a very beautiful story. Weaving the present time back into childhood in a very meaningful way. Holding onto a smile on your Mother's face for a while longer...

orchid Miyako said...

Dearest Linda,
My dear blog friend Mariette kindly taught me about this post of yours.
I'm a Japanese woman close to 60 years old. Right after starting to read your writing, tears were pouring down from my eyes. My father, who is 88 years old, is in kind of the same state of physical condition or worse now. We lost my mother many years ago and I'm his only immediate family. My father vaguely remember "furusato,故郷" and react for the song me singing and for you-tube a bit. Oh, I clearly remember I used to look up the full-moon with my mother and she told me about the rabbit in the moon making me feel filled with fantasy when little. Otukimi "お月見”is comimg soon, isn't it... He used to be a caring father and also like a 'superman' for me who doesn't have anything he cannot do p;) Unfortunately, his words like pearls were almost fallen from a broken string. However, I feel happy seeing the little smile he still shows me sometime. Thank you So much for this beautiful writing.

Lots of Love and hugs, xoxo Miyako*

Amrita said...

This is beautiful

Cynthia S. said...

Dear Linda,
Thank you, for this! I went through this with my father-in-law, my grandmother and now, my mother-in-law. It's difficult to see the memory leave so rapidly with Alzheimer's. My family struggles with trying to get my mother-in-law to remember things. But, I am happy to see her smile and be able to still remain in the independent section of her retirement center. Talking with her and making her laugh or taking her shopping is a treat, all by itself. Now, if I could get everyone else to stop battling her about her memory and just enjoy her presence.... Again, thank you, for this beautiful piece. said...

Thank you all for your comments. My heart goes out to those with family or friends suffering from Alzheimer's and to those who have already been through the journey. A special hug to Miyako-san - keep singing and playing the old songs. Live in their world, and as Cynthia says, just enjoy their presence while you can!

kathleen pooler said...

Dear Linda, you have captured this precious moment for all time. It is beautiful as is your book of poems. In the midst of all the loss, there are moments of beauty to cherish as your story does so well.

Munir said...

Thank you for your post.
Also, welcome Linda!

Janet Givens said...

Thank you, Linda, for the important reminder that in the midst of what we see as chaos, there will be pearls.

janmorrill said...

Linda, once again you shared a private moment with your mother, and it helps me to see through different eyes as I care for my own mother who is disabled and my stepdad who has Alzheimer's. Thank you again for a beautiful and touching story. said...

Thank you all. Janet, you're right that there are pearls in any kind of chaos or tragedy. We just have to look for them and treasure them. Jan, I hope you find many pearls on your caregiving journey.

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D.M. SOLIS said...

I love this. My adoptive grandmother was from Japan, via Hawaii, and was in the camps after Pearl Harbor. Whenever I go to Hawaii, I know how greatly she missed it. Her yard, nextdoor to mine, was like a botanic garden. And she taught me so much about blossoms and fruit trees. I miss her.


Ebendy said...

Awesome!!!! Such a touching post..Good work done. Hope you pass by my page to read about addiction..

Ebendy said...

Awesome!!!! Such a touching post..Good work done. Hope you pass by my page to read about addiction..

vaishali said...

This reminded me of my situation when my mother suffered from depression,I was just a class 9th student and it happened suddenly.I was so afraid,I pretended to be strong but I was broken. I know you were in a much more difficult situation then mine but I can understand your feelings. By god's grace my mother is better now. But I can never overcome my fears said...

Very touching read. My Mom died of Alzhimers and now one of my brothers has it. He is in middle stages.

I am the only one left in my family. I am 71 young.

So far nothing yet as my grown children or my doctor would of informed me like we were informed of our Mom and my Brother.

I know that friends one of the spouses has it but they live in denial.

La Petite Gallery said...

This was like reliving days with my Mother, Alzheimers is so very hard to watch.
Thanks for sharing this beautiful story and introducing me to the writer.

Olaguelegra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
La Petite Gallery said...

just popped in to say Hello.


A Lady's Life said...

This disease is terrible . I truly believe these people are just trapped inside and can't get out .
My Mom also suffered from Parkinsons and Alezheimers.She lived with us at home and it sure was a learning experience.

Laura said...

How tender and beautiful this is.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

I miss your posts. I read this one last August and it stayed with me. I came back to see if you had written more and was disappointed to find that this was your last one.

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