Poems Are Not Hallucinations

Short Stories

Lynne and Dad looking at her Book of poems, 180 More by Billy Collins

Lynne is scared by hearing a man’s voice repeating, “Something is rotten ….”
After a caregiver and I calmed her down, he showed her a book of poems, 180 More by Billy Collins.
Lynne said, I love that book.
I think she is rememberng lines from Billy Collins’ peoms.

Lynne has told me and several others that she is scared by a man’s voice. Luna, the care director mentioned it several times, so they have called for a psychiatric visit with her. [I hope Lynne doesn’t think he’s the man behind the voice].

She told friend Nancy, “A man keeps saying, ‘You are loved.’ But nobody believes me.”

Nancy calmed her down, “I believe you saw something that seemed like a man in your apartment.”

That would be spooky. Interestingly though, she never sees a man, only hears the voice. Friend Donna emailed me about a video chat because Lynne was upset. It seemed like Lynne had a hallucination about someone being in her room offering her M&M’s. [note: I drop off trail mix with M&Ms every morning and staff delivers them to her].

Lynne is losing cognition steadily now. Sentences are shorter, she often can’t complete them, and she repeats herself. Neverethess, she can chat even though she may mix up memories [I do that too]. The last call about the man’s voice might have alerted us to the source of the voice. A Caregiver called me because Lynne was upset by a man’s voice that repeated, Something is rotten….
I said, Something is rotten in Denmark
How did you know that, he asked?
It’s a famous saying.
The caregiver picked up one of her books to distract her, 180 more: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, by Billy Collins.

Lynne said, I love that book.

I said, “Lynne you’re hearing Billy Collins voice saying poetry to you. But actually it’s your memory repeating his poems. Your memory is working.”

I emphasized the poems are uplifting. So when his poem says, “You are loved,” he is affirming she is lovable. She doesnt’ have to worry about that voice. It’s her memory working well. I’ve restated it two or three times. I told Luna we found the man. She laughed, “We’re a team.”
We’ll see if that helps. At least it’s a nice way to comfort her and read her another poem. I ordered the book for me to read poems to her. And we’ll if the pyschiatric visit confirms it’s mostly her memory for poems.

Each day brings new puzzles to answer to solve to give us a little hope for a little while.

Hopes and Fears in Moving Out of Isolation

Short Story 3086 words

Lynne waving from her new apartment

Two days after nothing could go wrong about moving Lynne to Life’s Neighborhood, Skylar, a caregiver on the night shift, called me at 9:00 pm because Schmitty the Kitty was out of cat food. She said, “Kim had noticed it a few days ago. Luna was going to call you, but I guess she forgot. I’ll go get some food.”

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Confessions About Missing CrossFit and Stealing Hubcaps

Short Story 3005 words

Perhaps some instinct warned me to glance at Lynne as she and I chatted in a pleasant conversation in the sunroom of my sister, Jane. Three easy chairs, two tables and a TV dominated the cozy space, except for a small spot in which Zoe, Jane’s cat, sat on her haunches with her eyes and ears focused on the TV. Lynne, my 54-year-old daughter and I had flown from Seattle to Denver the day before to visit her favorite Aunt Jane and Lynne’s cousins. Lynne had been excited about the trip even though she’d been frightened on other trips and haunted by one she regrets. She was too afraid to fly to Broadway in New York City for five days and four nights with her sister to see Bruce Springsteen On Broadway. I bought sweatshirts for us, but every time she sees me wear it, she regrets not going. I don’t wear mine around her anymore. When I proposed the trip to see Aunt Jane, she said, “Yes, I can do two nights and three days.”

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I Want a Cat

(Short story 4451 words)

“I want a cat.”

Lynne had persisted about getting a cat over the past few weeks, unlike many requests that flash by briefly and are quickly forgotten. I hoped this one would be one-time flash by because a cat would arrive with loads of baggage.

Lynne is my 54-year old daughter who lives in a compact one-bedroom apartment in assisted living. Over the year-and-a-half years she’s lived there, her random requests for a pet would fill a petting zoo such as hedgehog, parrot, dog, hamster and fish. Unexpectedly, a cat had recently arrived as a persistent request.

I get the requests because I’m her 78-year old dad in my first year as a widower loaded with full responsibility for her care. She focused her blue eyes atop puffy cheeks in a rosy oval face with a wide smile, draped in a bob cut of salt and pepper hair streaked with gold. Her steady gaze exudes strength from her firm shoulders squared back by workouts three times a week. I adore her because she’s cooperative from the beginning when she moved out of her home with three teenage sons, a cat, two dogs and a cat. She enjoys less stress and, incredibly, thrives in that facility mostly because she helps care of the other residents who are at least 20 years younger than other residents. Residents and staff lover her. She laughs a lot. She guides residents to bathrooms. She listens to them when they’re lonely. She calls for staff when residents need help. Staff treat as an equal and request her help with residents. She’s an inspiration to me. My main joy right now is to see her happy by fulfilling her wishes.

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