by Forrest C.

I watch the ocean,
Not a wave folding the same,
White foam marbled swirls.

photos by forrest c.

As hard as I look
I cannot see tomorrow
Thank you for today.

Set free your worries
We cannot see tomorrow
Just live for today.

I watch patiently
The horizon calls my soul
I know you are here.

The 5th Floor
by Michelle B.

On my way to 5th floor memory care 
Where my mom continues to lose her memory
I get to meet all the residents
I feel like I’m in a John Steinbeck novel

Mac walks the halls
He wanders into Paul’s room
I hear Paul yelling at Mac
Get out, get out, it’s my room
I go and guide Mac 
Out of the room and down the hallway
With the help of another resident Elsie

Elsie has a boyfriend at the last place she stayed
He calls to talk with her
She tells the staff 
She will call him tomorrow
She can’t be bothered 

My Mom tells everyone who visits
She lives in a shopping center
In her room
They all try on her hats
She tells them just wear one 
And you will want to buy one

We run into Tom who is new
He seems lost
I ask him if he is looking for his room
He tells me “I’m just looking for something real”

 Beautiful Faye perfectly coiffed hair and make up
Only wants to wear skirts no pants
She looks like Debbie Reynolds
She calls out from the living room
Miss Miss Miss
She calls everyone Miss

Bobbi looks after my Mom
They are friends
They hold hands 
She tells me when my Mom falls asleep at the table 
She uses a knife to bang on the table to wake my Mom

In the dining room while everyone is eating their lunch
I ask each one at the table
What is your favorite dance 
Faye says, the waltz
Bobbie says the swing
Lynn says Country Western

Then I ask what is your favorite movie?
Faye says Gone with the Wind
Then everyone says Gone with the Wind

I ask what is your favorite music?

Faye says, the waltz
Bobbie says the swing
Lynn says Country Western

Birdie is sweet
She is from Ireland
I think she is my favorite
One day she was upset
I asked the staff why she was upset
They said someone sat in her place at lunch

She went to her room and didn’t want to eat
Sitting in “her seat”
Is important to her
It might be one of the few things she remembers

My Mom is sitting with several ladies
On the back deck having lunch
Everyone is wearing a hat and has their nails painted bright beautiful colors
When we are leaving to go back to her room
She thanks one of the workers for the nice party

June is in her wheel chair
She is tiny
She holds my hand
Sometimes she smiles
She notices the heart-shaped lanyard I am wearing
She likes it saying it will attract a man

My Mom likes her apartment
It is her world now
I fill her room with things she loves
Trying to make it feel like her home
Poetry books
Her art
Albums of her life
Photographs of her second husband Tony
Her nine sisters
Her kids and grandchildren

Every Thursday 
Is non-alcoholic
Happy hour 
I found the only bottles of non-alcoholic red wine
At the Safeway down the road
I bought all 6 bottles

The ladies sit outside
The staff serves their drinks
And hors d’oeuvres
It’s like a scene from a 50’s movie

She asks me where I am living 
Tells me I can get an apartment there too
She asks me if anyone is living in her home
I say no

In the living room everyone is watching the news
I ask why the news
The staff says because they are all waiting for wheel of fortune to come on the TV. 

My mom has been leaving us for so many years
Now she needs to be here 
In a place where she is safe
Not in the home she loves
I can’t tell her we have to sell her home to pay for this new home

My mom has been leaving us for so many years
Now she needs to be here 
In a place where she is safe
Not in the home she loves
I can’t tell her we have to sell her home to pay for this new home

In the living room there is dance music playing
Joan is dancing by herself
She signals me to come and dance with her
We dance and giggle
Everyone is the room is smiling and laughing

Everyday I’m filled with sadness
Letting go of my Mom
Letting all the staff become her new family
I’m cleaning out her home
Getting ready to put it on the market
I feel like the enemy

This is the new world 
For all these lovely people
Who had lives
Ted told me he was an engineer
Thelma worked for the County
Beth used to make jams and jellies
Connie was a nurse
Elsie was a dancer
Beth has two daughters
A gathering of lost memories

A Big Rock

by John W.

He awoke as the new day dawned

To face his life or death choice

He had bottomed out so long ago or was it yesterday?

The simplicity of his decision, belied the difficulty to see it through

The boulder was large

Easily as tall as he it seemed

Its surface smooth, like polished steel

A big rock, a perfect sphere, he called it sobriety

Each morning it was the same just he and his rock

With measured step, he assumed his position

The heat from hell in the depths behind him

Already provoked his fear of possible failure

As was his custom when he started his task anew each day

His thoughts turned first to family

To a loyal and supportive spouse he had driven away

To those beautiful children he had alienated

Over time he had learned to recall his past without regret

For he knew now he could alter none of it.

In those days long gone, his will alone had not been enough.

His disease had been too cunning, too baffling, too powerful.

As she started to push her sphere called sobriety

The strength surged within her, she loved that feeling

She loved it more than her life, for it had saved her,

It had snatched her from the brink of hell

Nor had her higher power forsaken her

Even when she went out, even when she had slipped.

For she had remembered to ask for help

And she had spoken the word thy will not mine

Was it the sun that was high overhead, she did not know.

Did it even matter she thought as her goal was in sight

Still she toiled hard, as day was becoming night

Always pushing, pushing that rock up the hill of today 

As if on cue she heard them, the voices.

First softly, then building to a crescendo,

She knew each by their unique tone.

She recalled their phone calls and visits, as if they were yesterday.

Some had met the challenge, she smiled while she pushed,

But she remembered too, those who had shortcut the steps.

The dissonance bespoke their failure, not hers,

For she had known their hell and wanted it no longer.

Still they pushed their rocks upward, their goal was at hand

As the sun began to set, they doubled their efforts

This day they had each escaped their devil’s grasp

This day they had each tapped the divine, to live not die

Elated for this day well-lived

Exhausted, for each had labored without rest

To move their rock, and to help others

Who were moving theirs, to the top of the hill of today.

Each had indeed earned their chip for their feat

In the peace of contentment

Each collapsed in the bosom of their serenity

Their dreams were bliss, their sleep sublime.

She awoke as the New Day dawned

Just her and her rock, she called it sobriety

The heat from hell in the depths behind her

She pushed her rock up the hill of today, one step at a time

Dedicated to Kathy B., 20 years and counting

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