I read at a Swindon Alzheimers Society event recently. I’ll admit to some concern about my choice of poems beforehand. I need not have worried. The audience was delightful and we had great fun.
I’ll be a big 70 on my birthday in April. I suppose the conflation of the two events set me on a cathartic clash about memory. I scrambled my anxiety through numbers. The age my eldest granddaughter will be when she graduates. Will I be there? Will I know I’m there. The ages my parents kicked it. While I’m a positive person by nature (quote: He always thinks the glass is half-full, even when it’s empty) I associate all this with the 9s: 49, 59, 69. When I hit 70, I’ll breathe again.
I read that the last memories to go in dementia are the poems we learnt by heart. I decided to learn a long poem every month. They’ll come in handy with grandchildren who say on car journeys: Granddad, tell us a story. It’ll also set my grandchildren up for their own old age, somewhere around 2110. . .
The poem I learned off by heart this month is:
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
I recited it to a very old friend in hospital recently and he joined in. See, success already!
First published in Swindon Link