94 = A
The neurologist’s questions are the only ones Dad doesn’t answer
before Mom can speak,
sacred questions of dementia’s catechism,
but riding home Mom is miffed at her wrong replies –
“What month is it? What year?” – although these days
she doesn’t seem upset to leave the Sunday crossword
Three times or more she asks us, “What questions
will he ask me next time?” so we joke about helping her at 94
to cram the night before her exam and she laughs:
thank God humor lingers like the scent of gardenia
even after every petal withers.
At home when I ask Mom what she wants for lunch it’s Dad
who answers, “A glass of milk with two ice cubes,” and,
“Just half a sandwich.” Sometimes I wonder silently if this
is what she’d truly choose
but after 70 years together I’ll have to trust Dad can ace
this test, my Father rarely sighted in the kitchen
all the years I was growing up who now provides
her every meal; even so wouldn’t I like , just this once,
to hear the old answers from Mom herself?
Bill Griffin MD is a family physician (retired) in rural North Carolina.
His poems have appeared in JAMA, NC Literary Review, Southern Poetry Review and elsewhere.