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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: http://moonbridgebooks.com