Academic journal article Care Management Journals

Unmapped Border: Sister-in-Law in a Nursing Home

Academic journal article Care Management Journals

Unmapped Border: Sister-in-Law in a Nursing Home

Article excerpt

The walls in your room

your favorite lemon yellow.

Photos and paintings

from your house

hung with care by your daughter.

Your face-

how to read its language?

Hunched in a wheelchair

you can't speak, can't write,

nerve cells slowly dying these last years

"I'm sure she knows me," your daughter

who visits daily, tells us.

"You think she does," her husband murmurs.

Choices: What do you want for dinner?

List in one hand, the other a light presence

on your shoulder, your daughter quietly

asks,

"Chicken or salmon?" And waits,

her eyes a soft light scanning your face.

Your eyes widen, pale blue waking from

haze,

your lips part slightly, almost a smile,

Your daughter nods and makes a checkmark,

saying, "You always did like salmon."

Slowly she reads aloud each choice:

"Ice cream or apple crisp?" Each time,

tilting

her head, she seems to listen, then write.

"Seeing," Voltaire said, "is forgetting the

name

of the thing one sees." And hearing?-

keenest when listening to a loved one's

silence?

Alone with your daughter who used to

speak

in a rat-a-tat that shut out silence

I say, "You're so patient, so tender. …

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