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Daughter pens poem based on experience of dementia after her Grantham-born mother died of disease

A grieving daughter has penned a poem from the perspective of her mother who suffered with dementia.

Elizabeth McMahon read the poem out at the funeral of her mother, Margaret Dodwell, who died peacefully on June 20 at Maple Leaf Nursing Home. She was 92.

Born and bred in Grantham, Margaret and her husband, Joseph, were known in Grantham for their volunteer work with the Handicapped Society.

Margaret Dodwell
Margaret Dodwell

But about six years ago, Margaret’s family noticed she was becoming more forgetful and by the time she was diagnosed with dementia two years later, her family suspected as much.

The move into a nursing home was a difficult one but Margaret adapted and, until the pandemic struck, enjoyed some happy years.

But the lack of visits during the pandemic, and in particular physical contact, had a big impact on both Margaret and her family.

Elizabeth, a language teacher, was moved by their experiences to write the poem with the aim of raising awareness of the impact of dementia.

She said: “A lot of people are not aware of just what a huge impact dementia has on people’s lives, and not just those suffering but their families as well. It is a very slow progression and as we went along, she was less and less like herself.

“It was a long period of grief.”

The pandemic, where visits to care and nursing homes were restricted, was particularly difficult, said Elizabeth, 68.

“During the pandemic, the lack of physical contact was awful - it means a lot to people with dementia to have hand holding and cuddles, and it just wasn’t possible. It was truly heartbreaking.”

Elizabeth, who lives in Norwich, contacted the Journal with the poem after it struck a chord with people at her mother’s funeral.

“So many younger people came and said it had made them understand what she was going through,” she said.

“I hope it makes people a little bit more understanding.”

Why don't I remember that?

I sometimes don’t know who I am anymore, I don’t know where I end

and the world begins.

Why am I here? What did I do?

I sometimes remember my home, our garden,

I’m going home soon. Will Joe be there?

He promised not to leave me, but they say he was sick.

Why don’t I remember that?

I can see his lovely, handsome face in the photos,

But where is he now? Is he waiting for me?

My children, grandchildren, great grandchildren visit me,

They tell me not to worry, I didn’t do anything wrong.

They remind me of my life before, they bring it back for me

Snapshots of happy times and familiar faces.

Why don’t I remember that?

I miss my Mum. Who is looking after her?

Why don’t I cook anymore? Why don’t I go to Morrissons?

The people here are kind to me, but I’m such a nuisance sometimes.

They tell me what day it is, what time it is, help me get dressed.

Why can’t I do these things anymore?

They say I had a good time at the sing song yesterday.

Why don’t I remember that?

They tell me I was a good Mum, a kind, generous person. Remind me

of the church we went to & Alice & Enid.

I still love them all, even through all this fog,

They talk about their Dad, my lovely Joe

The person he used to be. The person I used to be.

Why don’t I remember that?

My mind is so full of thoughts sometimes, all mixed up. It’s like a

jigsaw puzzle in my head

I try to find the corners, the edges, but I can’t remember the picture

now. The pieces don’t have any shape, don’t fit together.

It’s peaceful now though, I’m not worried anymore.

They’ve told me what is wrong with me

Why don’t I remember that?

You were beautiful, with your English rose complexion Your halo

of white hair framing your undying prettiness, You were a caring,

loving daughter, wife, Mum & grandma. Your kindness, funniness,

willingness to help others

Dad loved you to the end, as did we all,

We will always remember that.

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