148. When I’m Not There

Your husband ran into a friend

Shopping at Walmart.

His wife also suffers 

With Parkinson’s

And they commiserated. 

Unlike your husband,

He told yours he likes to cook.

He asked him if he had a rice cooker,

Then said, “follow me.”

He picked one out, 

And handed it to your husband—

“You’ll be a gourmet cook

With the push of one button.”

I asked him 

If he likes rice?

He told me 

He does now. 

He tells me all this

While we


His new wi-fi—

I am the tall girl in the kitchen

Plus tech support.

When we finish,

After a lengthy, 



Dinner is ruined. 

Burned sauce

Burned rice

And you are crying. 

He offers you a banana

And asks me—

“When are you coming back?” 

The Poetry of Dementia is an ongoing project to share my family’s journey with my mother’s illness as a year of moments. We do not know whether my mother will live a full year—or perhaps she’ll live longer. Her dementia has been a bittersweet and beautiful journey that has already taken us places we never imagined. Loving and caring for her at home has fundamentally changed each of us, and daily reminds us to live in the present with love, trust and patience. Click here to read from the beginning.