95: The Clock Shoe

95: The Clock Shoe

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers

The Clock Shoe

Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin.

~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

Mother can’t remember who I am,
talks in riddles, shifts place
and time mid-sentence.


Her body looks the same, her face
under a tent of tidy gray hair,
sweet, alert, yet wild-eyed.


Of the memories we shared
and used to laugh about
I have my half only.


She thinks she’s in trouble
with her mother for staying out too late
with a girlfriend, both long dead.


Today when I visit Mother
she opens the door a crack.
She calls me aside to ask,


“Who is that man?
He’s very nice, and I don’t
want to hurt his feelings,”


as she points to my father,
“but I really must have him leave now.”
They’ve been wed for fifty years.


I give her that simple Alzheimer’s test, the task
of drawing a clock face with paper and pencil,
but she ponders, “Hmm, a clock?”


and stalls. “I could draw a violin.”
A clock sits on the table in front of her
and she deftly draws a shoe. “A clock shoe,”


we laugh and begin a new set of memories
that will last her only for minutes.

~Sandra Berris

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