For Want of Open Minds

He asked my thoughts on politics
but before my mouth could move
he stormed ahead with words of dread
drowning out the room

and on he roared, a raging flood
I chose to bide my time
for it was plain enough to hear
I couldn’t change his mind

no reasoned fact, no cautious note
no plea for honesty
was going to change this zealot’s fears
about humanity

I smiled and offered my goodbye
I scarcely think he heard
for he was talking to himself
since no one else concurred

a sad day for democracy
sad for humankind
when we fail to listen with respect
for want of open minds

tio stib,
2017, 2018

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My Dementia Diary 40 – When “No!” Means “Yes!”

“Do you want to take a shower?” I asked her.

“No!”

I asked again, “do you want to take a Shower?”

“No!”

I took off my clothes, then asked one more time, “do you want to take a shower?”

“No!”

Okay, fine, I thought, I’m taking a shower by myself. I was tired, not feeling well, and the thought of soaking under a stream of hot water was delicious. I needed it. I’d asked my wife three times if she’d wanted to join me because recently I’ve had to shower with her to ensure she was washed thoroughly. She enjoys this.

But, she said, “no!”

I lost myself in the showers warm deluge, letting fatigue and aches melt away. Eventually, I turned off the water, dried myself and put on pajamas, then approached my wife, who was lying in bed.

“You don’t love me,” she said defiantly, “why didn’t you shower with me?”

Obviously, I’d made a mistake, something I often do when tired.

Obviously, her previous “no!” meant “yes!”

I’d forgotten that she is now so attached to me that she expects we will do everything together. If we don’t, something is wrong.

It took a lot  of soothing talk and caresses before her anger dissolved and her usual loving self returned. I’ve learned that these situations simply require patience and eventually harmony is restored.

Later, as she slept soundly beside me, I pondered how easy it is to do everything right and still have things go wrong.

Dementia is not a rational disease.

tio stib

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My Dementia Diary 39 – My Mockingbirds

We often hear mockingbirds on our morning walks. It’s hard to ignore them. Male mockingbirds barrage the world all day long with sounds that vary from raucous  noises to sweet songbirds. They are incessant, stringing their auditory outbursts on and on with nary a breath between the various snippets.

My wife and the mockingbirds have much in common.

It seems each day unleashes a torrent of words from  her mind, which is somehow dammed up by night time silence. this verbal flood bursts out just as I lock the door and we step away from home. There are common themes, where are the kids, what is someone’s name, why don’t people call us anymore? the words keep pouring out. Like the mockingbirds, there is no noticeable breath between one thought and the next. 

Then come the songs. Although she can’t remember what we had for breakfast, she does remember songs from the third grade, pitch perfect, every word. She sings, she whistles, and we merrily walk on.

I am blessed by mockingbirds.

tio stib

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My Dementia Diary 38 – Naked in the Night

naked in the night
truth stood bare before his mind

lost in Heaven’s dreams
his angel slept beside him
caressing her hair
he remembered that first smile
the joy that had bewitched him

how many smiles were left
how many days, how many years
before joy would disappear

the nearby window rattled
the wind swept Fall away

naked in the night
the tree stood bare before the moon

it would be hours before sleep claimed him

tio stib

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Lumpy Gravy, thoughts on writing Well

I’m working on the rewrite of a chapter in a new book and in spite of hours of effort, when I pause to listen to what I’ve written, it sounds like lumpy gravy.

Yes, I realize that gravy doesn’t talk, sing, or make any other noise, but it still seems the perfect metaphor for my imperfect words. In case you’re not familiar with gravy and, in particular, lumpy gravy, a brief description-

Gravy is a sauce made from cooked meat juices, stock, and other ingredients. One ingredient is flour, which is used to thicken the sauce. When the flour is added incorrectly, the result is lumpy gravy, little balls of unmixed flour in the sauce, a culinary no-no. Like good writing, I believe creating good gravy, a sumptuously smooth sauce, is a combination of rigorous practicality and delicate art.

My own experience is that lumpy gravy usually results from hurrying, compromising time and care because of impatience, setting an unrealistic timeline for creating something that simply cannot be rushed. There is a proper order and way to add and mix ingredients. don’t do this and you get lumps.

what are the lumps in my writing? Words and phrases that don’t sound right, feel out of place, don’t fit the desired style, don’t truly support the theme. Adverbs and adjectives that were easy to insert but, upon reflection, don’t add anything. 

What I write seldom comes out smooth and lump free the first time. Admittedly, I rarely succeed at creating lump free gravy either. In cooking, there are two ways to fix this, stir or whisk much more, or, something few will admit to, strain the gravy through a sieve to remove the lumps. 

This is what rewriting is all about, the writer’s process of removing the lumps from his work through careful consideration, in my case, listening as I can’t see what I’ve written. Often I brainstorm words, sentences, even paragraphs. with the magic power of today’s word processing technology and my text reader friend, Alex voiceOver, I can quickly try and listen to many options, until I hear something that is smooth and feels right. And on I move to the next paragraph.

Ultimately, I’m the cook in my word kitchen and I know, that unless what I’ve written passes my taste test, unless I’ve taken the time, done the work, to make perfect, lump free, gravy, those words can’t leave the kitchen.

tio stib

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Excuses

damn sick, you know, that awful flu
slipped and fell on doggy do
triple booked, what could I do
have you met the new guy, Lew
slipped out to sip a little brew
Giants lost, the Seahawks too
burned the Sunday evening stew
blame it on my low I.Q.
what’s with all the ballyhoo
just what did I promise you

really

what else is new

tio stib
2017, 2018

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Insomnia

there are moments when
I dream in peace
a mind released to roam
then others when
the clock grinds on
and night becomes a tomb

I lay now in eternal night
awaiting mindless deep
a craving need to somehow get
a decent hour’s sleep

tio stib
2015, 2018

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