I AM about to do another charity do.
How could I refuse when one of our ‘I’ll have what she’s having’ production (that’s what our writing and performing group is called by the way) ladies approached me?
And it’s for a very good cause. It’s for the Alzheimer’s cause. An illness that many of us have had a connection with in one way or another. Alzheimer’s is a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills.
It will eventually cause people to lose the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. But getting back to the charity do. It’s a night of performances to raise money.
A few years back, not long after my own mum passed away, I wrote a monologue about an old lady in a nursing home who was suffering with Alzheimer’s. It was quite hard to write. The question is, what do people who suffer with Alzheimer’s really think? So obviously the organiser of the charity event asked if I would perform it. So, I’m going to share it with you.
It’s called ‘I’ve not gone, I’m still here’. It is an old-ish lady sat in a chair. And these are her rational thoughts as she watches what’s happening around her. I have cut out some of the monologue due to having limited space for my Chronicle piece.
‘I know what you all think. That old lady sitting there has no idea what’s going on, or where she is most of the time. I hear what you say.
‘And when yer ask if I’d like a cup of tea, I would very much appreciate it if yer could have the patience to wait for me to answer.
‘I haven’t lost my voice; it just takes me longer to think of the words.
‘You all forget to talk to me. You all seem to talk to others about me. But then again, so do my visitors. Oh, I know yer don’t mean to, but I find that I’m slowly becoming… invisible.
‘I sit all day in this chair just gazing out of the window. It’s a lovely view. But sometimes I think it would be lovely to sit outside, feel the sun on my face, but I always seem to get plonked in this chair watching the outside world, but never a part of it.
‘Alzheimer’s is a strange illness. People see someone who is incapable of functioning normally.
‘Yes, I know I can’t be trusted to be left alone with the cooker anymore. And I forget the things yer told me this morning, but to be honest, other than the doctors is it really that important if I don’t know who the Prime Minister is or when World War Two ended.
‘Yer see what everyone sees is an old lady that has a cruel illness. I haven’t really gone, I’m trapped. I belong in a time long ago, back when I was a young girl.
‘I may not be able to remember things of today, but I remember as if it was yesterday being a child running through fields, climbing trees, calling to friends to ‘find me’.
‘I’m the little girl who sang nursery rhymes. I am the little girl who waited by the bus stop, waiting for her mother to return from the hospital, when she never would return.
‘I am the young woman who worked in the mill, fell in love and married her dear, sweet John. I am the mother who wanted her life to end when she lost her first child but lived to have another four.
‘I am the mother who chased her children along the beach, the wind blowing in my red hair.
‘I am the grandmother who helped to bring up all her grandchildren, so their parents could go back to work.
‘And I am the old lady who nursed her beloved John and whose heart broke when he had to leave her.
‘So please when you look at me, try not to see what I am now, for this is not me, this is my illness, I am the things of years long gone.
‘So, when I call you by my mothers name, or ask if you’d like to play hide and seek, or ask when John will be coming, please remember that I’m in a time of long ago. Be patient. Respect who I was even if you don’t like who I am now and remember the happy times when I loved and cared for you all.
‘A time when I laughed and chased you along beaches, the wind blowing in my red hair.’