My Name is Jane

As one gets older one is concerned about health issues but for me it is mental issues that worry me most.  My mother suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease during the latter years of her life and I wonder if it is inherited and passed down to the children.

Definition of Alzheimer’s – Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes.

I recently read this blog from Nancy at Spirit Lights the Way and began to think what it must be like to be in a situation where you really don’t remember or know who or where you are.  This is my attempt to put it into words:

My Name is Jane, I think.

They’re calling me Jane
Is that who I am
I am perfectly sane
but I don’t know their plan.

I look in the mirror and what do I see
Someone who vaguely resembles me
But why am I here and why all the tears
They are beginning to scare me, what is there to fear?

 It seems like only yesterday I knew who I was and
Proud, strong and upright my life in my hands.
But now you tell me that isn’t so
Well if I am not me then where did I go?

 I remember a time when my children were small
But yesterday and last week I know not at all
Where did those days go and why am I here
I wish you could tell me why did they disappear?

This young woman calls me Mother but I don’t know her at all
She looks kind of familiar, lovely smile, soft hands and all
And the young boys with her they are calling me Gran
But again I don’t know them why are they taking my hand?

Perhaps I knew her when I too was young
When life was before me and everything was fun
And losing one’s self wasn’t even thought of then
So how could I have landed here – is this the end?

 I think I know you – are you a nurse
And where are you taking me, I know the way
Well I did before this curse
Came upon me and befuddled my mind
And now I feel that I have left me behind.

But I am still me though I can’t make you hear
I’m still your mother and hold you all dear
What’s that you say my name is Jane
And I really feel that I’m perfectly sane.

But they’re calling me Jane
Are they talking to me
Is that my name and
Who I used to be?
Judith Baxter Blogger, mother, grandmother and friend.
1938 –

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33 responses to “My Name is Jane

  1. Thank you for putting it into such touching words. And may you and your family be spared the anguish of Alzheimer’s.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting. I think many of us fear Alzheimer’s more than anything else and I saw the pale imitation of the woman my mother once was. It was very scary.

  2. You captured it well. It is such a sad disease. My mother’s twin sisters suffer from it as well as my father’s sister. My grandfather had it and the most difficult time for my mother (her mother died when she was two years old) was when he thought she was his long lost dead wife and wanted to know why she’d left him and how happy he was she’d returned…so sad.

    • The disease and the stories told around it are heartbreaking. My mother once thought I was a nurse and thanked me for being so kind to her.
      I( am sorry that your family has been visited by this disease on several occasions. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Reblogged this on newfoundlandtraveller and commented:
    Some dear friends of mine have shuddered from this terrible disease. Thanks for posting the poem and your thoughts.

  4. Very poignant, Judith. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. May we all be spared the ravages of dementia. My mother, too, suffered this dreaded condition the last year or so of her life. Truth be known, though, she didn’t appear to suffer from it. We, her daughters, were the ones suffering. That’s the part that scares me–that my sweet daughters would have to suffer.

    Your poem brought tears to my eyes.

    • Well yes but my concern always was “What if she was asking these questions. What if she knew that what she was saying and doing were not correct. Wat if..” Although the staff in the complex assured me that this could not be, I was never and am still not totally convinced that they were correct.

      • I totally agree with you. We cannot know what’s in the mind of the patient. I’m sorry if I sounded flippant. That was not my intent.

    • I certainly didn’t take your comment as flippant Pat. I know that you cared for your mother and her suffering. And yes, I agree that those of us ‘on the outside’ suffered to a large or perhaps even larger degree than the person with the disease.
      I am offering an apology now to you if my response came across in the wrong way. Please keep reading and commenting. 🙂

  5. I simply can’t believe we both did posts on our mothers and Alzheimer’s at the same approximate time! Our connection is uncanny. I just posted mine and was browsing new posts. There you were, with a different slant on the story, but there you were thinking on the same wavelength… once again.

  6. Pingback: Why Are You Crying? « Technicolor Day Dreams

  7. Your poem is a very touching vision of what it might be like to have drifted away from one’s life. As I get older I try to appreciate every healthy day even more.

    • I am doing all I can to escape this dreaded disease but I guess we have no control over which of us gets it. I always worried that this was how my mother thought during her years living with Alzheimer’s but we shall never know.

  8. I would say this is one of the best things you have ever written. It is from the perspective of the sufferer and any A caretaker will find it immensely meaningful. I remember one story about President Reagan in his post office decline wherein he was visited by his former Secretary of State George Schultz . The exchange was of meaningless pleasantries and when Schultz left Reagan turned to Nancy and said “He is a very important man.” Several woman caretakers with husbands or fathers with A visit my blog. I will certainly send them over for this post.

    • Carl thank you. Your comment means a lot to me. sometimes one wonders if one is putting too much out there. As I said above, I always worried that my mother was thinking these things even though she looked content.
      And do you have another blog that these people visit? If so I should like to go there too.

  9. That is incredibly poignant. Though no one in my family ever had Alzheimer’s, my grandmother on my mother’s side had early stage dementia before she died. I worry about the memory loss more and more these days as I constantly struggle for a simple word. I read that statins can affect your memory and I’m on a statin. That scares the heck out of me.

    • The simple words that elude me are the greatest worry. Yesterday the word was foreign as in foreign country. A couple of seconds/minutes pass and the word comes back to me, but it is worrying.
      Thanks for the comment Susan.

  10. I’ll be honest. I could not finish reading it. Your words are beautiful, but I am just too saddened at the thought. My Uncle is battling it, as are countless others.

    • This was one of those things that just sprang into my mind. I am glad that you liked the words. It is a dreadful disease not only for the sufferer but also for the loved ones. I am sorry to hear that your uncle has it.

  11. Beautifully expressed, Judith. I’m glad, in reading the comments, that yous mother seemed content. Some do . . . perhaps they don’t realize what they’ve lost.

    Others, of course, are agitated and confused . . . knowing some essential part of themselves is missing.

    • For the most part my mother was content. She had occasional lucid moments when she complained that they didn’t have surnames in the home where she lived. She also remembered both my son and my nephew but not any of the girls. So sad. And yes, she thought I was a nurse once.

  12. I had eclamsia during my last pregnancy, and a spell on a ventilator which resulted in “the old me” being forgotten. I remembered some things but so much more was strange to me. Everyone else worried so much at that time, but I just went with the flow and learned to me the “new me”. It was a bit like looking at the world with the eyes of a child again, I’m not very good at explaining, but I hope you can draw some comfort from this.

    • Sallyann thank you. the staff assured me that mother was content with her ‘new life’ and so I have to think that it was so.
      I have never heard of the treatment for eclampsia and the idea of being on a ventilator is kind of scary, Thanks for sharing.

  13. So poignant, Judith, Thankyou!

  14. Reblogged this on I choose how I will spend the rest of my life and commented:

    I read this post today from Marylin at Things I want to tell my mother and I thought of the years when my mother suffered fro Alzheimer’s. This is a non selective disease. It seems that anyone can get it and frankly it frightens me as I think it might be hereditary.

    I have written a couple of posts on this subject, most recently Tea Drinkers Unite in response to a 100 Word Challenge set by Velvet Verbosity.

  15. lovely and touching words…

  16. Pingback: A Few Days or The Rest of My Life | I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

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