I was daughter then nursemaid to parents who died
as a gallant attempt though my efforts relied
on instructions from doctors whose manuals I read
when sent home as a reference yet much left unsaid—
with regard to behaviors that one shouldn’t see
if one’s hoping to salvage a last memory.
As if being the carer for someone in need
might be noted in heaven; a virtuous deed.
For disease of the brain, an unmalleable force,
I required a booklet, a guide with a course
or a sundowner’s channel explaining the mind
where directions were given or maybe defined.
When the light dimmed to shadows, each ominous dawn
with our daily disorder eroding the calm
overwhelming our closeness, invasion of roles
soon the parent’s the child, and the child’s the mole,
to myself I’d endeavored most dutiful chores—
being kind and forbearing while forging through tears.
With all tumbledown memories, turned tainted from sweet
where most visits made heartened by thoughtful conceit.
But when dying was over, their eulogy read…
there was no one to tell me, good girl. They were dead.