Poem by Kathy Kappler
It isn’t easy-it’s rather confusing.
Just yesterday felt somewhat amazing.
You look at me with words you’re afraid to say.
All I need is for you to talk like yesterday.
Everyday is new and yet somewhat old.
I remember the days when I was young and bold.
I wish for the confidence I so easily felt.
Now left with a void of which I’ve never dealt.
Yes, I’m aware that I’m different and trying to pretend.
But you’re different too-not aware of the message you send.
Crowds are now frightening, cause fear and withdrawal.
Understand my comfort is at home and not the mall.
I still love people when the focus is not on me.
Just don’t ask for my attention or someone I can’t be.
My head feels strange in a way I can’t express.
Understand, accept and know I’m at my best.
You are cautious with me- I feel it in my heart.
Just be you-the one I’ve known from the start.
It feels good to hear nice words of pleasure.
It causes acceptance, beyond the need to measure.
I may not say the right word, but never assume I don’t understand.
Please recognize and give me credit for doing the best I can.
I hear the difference between acceptance and condescension.
Please enjoy me-love me-talk normal and listen.
I still need to be heard and have something to offer.
Take in my smile, my joy and wonderful laughter.
I feel your lack of comfort and yet can’t find words of comfort.
Just know I’m okay-don’t fix it-be you with little effort.
I talk through my eyes and can’t express my mind.
Listen to my eyes and body language in kind.
Don’t look for words you know I can’t say.
Accept me with your eyes and smile each day.
I still can take your hand to comfort your pain.
I can offer when able -it’s just not the same.
My world is small-not as it used to be.
You are the same-just as special to me.
Kathy is a retired nurse with over 40 years of experience, nearly 25 of those working directly or indirectly with memory loss. Kathy’s first experience with Alzheimer’s and dementia came early in her career. She became interested in memory loss and was drawn to the memory care units in the community, spending extra time with the residents.
“I have a deep passion for working with anyone suffering from memory loss. I seem to have a natural understanding of those dealing with this tragedy,” says Kathy “I was drawn to it from my first professional introduction. I enjoy working with the staff and helping them understand the importance of respect and approach.”
Years after working to support those with memory loss and their families, Kathy began to notice alarming signs and symptoms of dementia in her sister, Gail. She accompanied her sister to a neurology appointment, where she was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
“My sister was a beautiful lady with a complex personality. She was well aware of her disease and talked about it freely. She progressed quickly, and there came the day my brother and I had to go to her home and explain that she was moving to a special environment,” says Kathy.
Even though Gail was an amazingly independent lady, she cooperated and seemed to understand the need for this move, she even seemed excited about it. Fortunately, Kathy was able to move Gail into the community where she worked and could see her daily.
“I am so thankful that I had that special time with her,” says Kathy, “It was a struggle to see my sister go through this terrible disease. I’m thankful I had the knowledge, experience, and love to be able to assist so closely in her care.“
As her needs increased, Gail eventually moved into a skilled nursing facility, where she later passed with her sister, children, and loved ones beside her.
Kathy has enjoyed writing all her life. She is inspired by emotions, and her poems have always been personal to her life and what she is going through. She wrote this poem in honor of her sister and what life might look like through her eye’s after her Alzheimer’s diagnosis. She wants people to know that, in her experience, individuals with Alzheimer’s respond very well to kindness, respect, humor, and love. She reminds us to always validate them and never assume they do not understand. It’s love and family that give Kathy hope and inspire her to keep fighting to end this terrible disease.
Kathy lives in Washignton and has a wonderful family with three children and six grandchildren, who all live nearby.