She likes to watch her children in the long grass, how they disappear, emerge, like they’re swimming in an ocean without current but the one of growing. See how the long blades part for them, how they close up all around, Watch the gold heads bob, hands reach up for the sun as if it’s the transportation of these years. Hear the silence, the safe silence. And then the muffled noise rolling through the shafts, secured forever by the wrinkled smile of her hearing. Children are nature’s people now, but her nature too, the one that says, play here, will later sigh, but how could I prevent you.
Sometimes, at end of day, but not of care, Mozart or Beethoven our aural food, Her hand reaches into empty air, A tactile search for something understood; This is a nurse’s hand, a hand that heals, And yet, the reaching gives no hint of sense, No hint revealing what it is she feels, But still, incarnate eloquence. Perhaps it is within these vacancies That meaning lies. Or in the mystery Surrounding us in health, and in disease. Perhaps Alzheimer’s gives epiphany. She reaches her hand into the empty air; Who dares to say that there was nothing there?
Danielle Snyderman, a geriatrician, says it isn’t possible to work successfully with an elderly patient without knowing about that person’s relationship with his or her spouse. This awareness led her to start collecting stories about the love lives of the couples she was working with. These stories are “packed with humor, history, wisdom, and grace. Who wouldn’t feel better after bearing witness to love that has weathered child-rearing, war, poverty, financial success, and physical decline?” Couples have difficulty addressing one question: “How do you anticipate a time without each other?” (Philadelphia Inquirer, June 14).