CharleAnne Pugh Sher —an Atlanta resident whose mother, Nila Anne Guinn Pugh, lived in CharleAnne’s house with Alzheimer’s disease for four years. After Nila suffered a fall and broke her right hip, she never regained the ability to walk, and progressed from assisted living to a personal care home to a nursing home. CharleAnne visited her every day at dinner time, and one evening noticed how physically tiny she had become…like she had "melted." A weekly support group at CharleAnne’s local church helped her to cope and learn not only about Alzheimer’s disease, but about other people—and ultimately herself. “You are the one who must change, accept and adapt as your loved one melts away,” she suggests. Her mom passed away January 15, 2011.
Like a cube of ice in a glass of Southern sweet tea,
You are melting.
The ravages of Alzheimer’s
Are taking you away.
Melted are your days
Of walking, talking, eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and saying,
“I love you.”
It’s been you and me for 64 years.
I remember when…
You played “Boogie Woogie” on the piano,
Fixed Sunday dinner for Papa and our family,
Dressed up in pink dresses with your high heels and hats,
Put pink roses in a jelly jar on the kitchen window sill,
Helped me learn to read in the first grade,
Taught me to love music,
Baked the best chocolate pie with coconut in the meringue,
Drove me to college classes on snowy days,
Joked about “ten ‘til eight” (“tintillate”),
Celebrated with me at two weddings,
Listened as I cried with two divorces,
Beamed with pride when I was “teacher of the year.”
When I was little, you took care of me.
Now, our roles reverse, and I take care of you.
Our special phrases of “yummy yummy for your Tummy” and “sho nuff”
Now, not hearing them is really tough.
Slowly you’ve melted over 6 years.
Without your knowing I’ve shed thousands of tears.
I’ll continue to see you every day
So long as there’s a way
To see your smiles and eyes of blue.
That I love you is surely true.
CharleAnne P. Sher ©
November 2, 2009