This September is World Alzheimer’s Month, an international campaign to raise awareness and challenge stigma. The theme for this worthy cause this year is ‘Remember me’, to encourage people to learn to spot the signs of dementia, and not forget about loved ones living with the illness.
This reminded me of a note from my dear Uncle Charlie, who has been with his partner Barbara every step of the way as she has bravely battled Alzheimer’s. He was going through some old papers when he came across some beautiful words written in her handwriting.
Uncle Charlie didn’t know whether she had composed it herself or found it elsewhere, but it was obviously meant for him to discover. It turns out it is a poem by Owen Darnell that has brought solace to many, many people around the world who have experienced Alzheimer’s.
As Uncle Charlie wrote to me: “The verse itself tells the story of a person fighting the loneliest of battles that they cannot win. Had I known more about Alzheimer’s at the time Barbara wrote this verse, we may as a family have been far more supportive.” I can attest that Uncle Charlie has been incredibly supportive. Joan and I both had tears in our eyes as we continued to read his note.
“Acceptance comes so very hard, along with a sense of helplessness watching my best friend and soul mate for over half a century slowly drift away to a place without memories. But this isn’t about myself, there are many million like me who watch their loved ones fight this monster Alzheimer’s on a daily basis as everything they once were is taken from them.”
I had mentioned another friend whose wife was suffering from Alzheimer’s, and Uncle Charlie asked me to send on a copy of the verse. As well as that, I thought I would post it here, in the hope it brings some comfort to others too.
Do not ask me to remember,
or try to make me understand,
Let me rest and know you’re with me,
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand,
I’m confused beyond your concept,
I am sad and sick and lost,
All I know is that I need you to be with me at all cost,
Do not lose your patience with me,
Do not scold or shun my cry,
I can’t help the way I’m living,
Can’t be different though I try,
Just remember that I need you,
That the best of me is gone,
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me till my life is done.
Every four seconds someone in the world develops dementia. Head over to World Alzheimer’s Month for more information on how to spot the signs of dementia and find out more.