Dot and Ted – A Poet Takes on Alzheimer’s Disease

To listen to this interview click on this link: https://soundcloud.com/user-308274075/dot-ted-a-life-long-love-story

Ted and Dot Morgan were married on April 8, 1952. On March 9, 2016, after many years of a loving and committed partnership, Dot was admitted to a dementia care unit in the small town in western Kansas where they had made a home and raised a family.  Shortly after Dot left her home of nearly 60 years for good, their daughter, Deanna, suggested to her father that he write poems to help him process this tragic development.

Ted has been a lifelong amateur poet, having self-published a book of his poetry for family and friends, so poetry was a familiar medium for him to use to express and come to terms with his and Dot’s experiences and feelings during this difficult journey.  Family, friends, and caregivers who have read these remarkable poems have encouraged Ted to share them with a broader audience so that those with loved ones suffering from dementia might find comfort from knowing that they are not alone in the feelings they are experiencing.  What follows is a selection of three poems out of a series currently totaling thirty-eight.  They have been numbered in the order in which they were written.

Before reading the poems, you might want to listen to this conversation Ted had with his oldest son, Ron.

Ted and his children, Ron and Deanna, have selected a few of Ted’s poems from his Sad and Lonely Series of Poems to share on this blog site. The poems below are just a small selection of the poems Ted has written as part of his grieving. His journey with Dot continues, and so does his writing.

SAD & LONELY #18 By Ted Morgan

“How’s Dot?”

Today my Dot was sad and depressed

She just wanted to come home with me

This is extremely hard for me to see

She even said she didn’t want to be

It makes me feel as lost as is she.

I don’t know how much she knows

But I do know when she’s not happy

And when she’s not, neither am I

But in her presence, I can’t sigh.

I’ve decided to visit her every day

And not stay very long

It seems to be better for us both that way

But it’s hard to know right from wrong.

On the street I’m asked, how’s Dot

And I don’t know what to say

It depends on what she remembers

And this changes from day to day.

One day she will be happy

The next and she will be sad

Then she sleeps until very late

With those who wake her, she will be mad. TRM

SAD & LONELY #9 By Ted Morgan

     A Stranger

      I write each day to ease my pain

Not really sure there is anything to gain

Lifetime memories of the one I love

A gift to me from God up above.

She is oh, so, very special, my little lady

Nothing about her was the least bit shady

She cared for me more than she should

That care I wish to return, if only I could.

Today I’m going to visit her a while

She’ll look at me and perhaps smile

Depending on who she thinks I am

Her memories of me are becoming quite dim.

I now record the visit referred to above

Questionable recognition, response not one of love

Friendly, but emotionally slow to react

True recognition, just not an established fact.

The nurse came, group exercise in store

She agreed and moved toward the door

Then she remembered me, took my hand

But again confused, the choice she didn’t understand.

Led by the nurse to an exercise chair

I was left standing, only to stare

I then left, all oblivious to her

My leaving created not even a stir.

She tore the blinds from her window last night

They are not putting them back up

Not there today, obviously out of sight

None of that does she remember today

She cursed the staff, so they say

I know it’s true though hard to believe

Just not my Dot — she needs to be relieved.

I just don’t know what else to do

Lots of suggestions, but I haven’t a clue

I try to remember how she used to be

But it’s a real stranger that now I see.  TRM

SAD & LONELY #1 By Ted Morgan

Gone

I’ve lost the love of my life

Gone is my lovely, beautiful wife

No, she didn’t leave, she didn’t die

I can’t comprehend it, only ask why?

Most shared experiences, she doesn’t remember

Like leaves falling from their limbs in September

She has this common elderly disease

Recent happy moments she tries to seize.

She doesn’t always know me

Thinks me her brother, her father, her son

She doesn’t know my sister, Kaye

Thinks son Ron and cousin Allen are one.

I tell her the truth, she thinks I’m lying

Believes her roommate is spying

Thinks she’s in the hospital, not the home

Late at night she tends to roam.

The doctors say she’ll not get better

There is nothing more that they can do

That it is no one’s fault

Nobody, that we could even sue.

She trusted me, but I let her down

By deceiving her into the home

In her best interest, I was so sure

But were my motives all that pure?

She complains, but is no longer stressed

Her fears seem to have gone away

She sees me, smiles, is a relaxed happy

I long for this again each day.

I so wish there was more I could do

To return to the way it used to be

That was her last request to me

Our love together is our plea. 

TRM

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28 comments

  1. Wow. There are no words to describe the love, the pain, the commitment here. Thank you for sharing such beautiful work by Ted.

    1. Wendy – Your response is encouraging to me. Ted

  2. These are beautiful poems! Thank you so much for sharing I can’t imagine the pain your family is going through. You are all in our thoughts and prayers.

    Love, Tim and Linda Lykins

    1. Thank you Linda, your words are encouraging to me. Ted

  3. Truly, readable and warm,like I always knew you and Dot. Thanks for sharing.
    From a Vt. acquaintance of Ron

    1. Harold – Thank you for your encouraging words. Ted

  4. Something I never knew about you ted that you wrote potery !
    I’ll have to visit with you about that besides golf 🏌️!

    1. Steve – We’ll talk poetry as long as GOLF is the priority. I have written two golf poems. Ask me about those sometime. Ted

  5. I have read the book you wrote and gave to kenny. This work is beautiful but makes me so sad. I miss my dear mother in law who died from this terrible disease.

    1. I didn’t know Ted, every time I’ve seen you and asked after her. Forgive me. I love Dot, her smile always so welcoming. Your poems touched my heart and your pain tears my soul. Just be there and hopefully, she knows you more often than not.

    2. Gwen – Thanks for telling me that you have read my book. I miss Fern too. Ted

  6. Thanks for sharing your warm, caring, beautiful thoughts of today and yesterday with Dot. I didn’t realize you wrote poetry; beautiful, and so comforting. You and Dot are always in our thoughts and prayers. You and your family have blessed our lives so very much. Thank you! ♥️🙏🏻

    1. Harold and Maylene – Thanks for commenting about my poetry. Your visits to Dot mean the world to me and my family. Ted

  7. Very moving. Thank you for sharing this and my best wishes to Ted and Dot and Ron and Deanna.

    1. Thank you for your encouraging words, Steve.
      Ted

  8. Kaye, Ted’s sister

    I am so proud of my brother and sister-in-law for dealing with this dreadful disease in the best way they can. Ted’s poems about our growing up years mean so much to me. What a gift !
    Grateful to hear Ron’s interview with his dad. Ted’s poetry about this sad and lonely part of his life bring tears to my eyes but thankful he is sharing in an effort to help others going through this experience in their family. Love, “sister” Kaye

    1. To Kaye – We all have challenges, including you….just different. Support is the answer and it is good to know that I am not alone. I appreciate your comments about my poetry book.
      Love,
      Brother Ted

  9. I often look forward to my encounters with Ted. Whether it’s at the top of the bleachers of the home basketball game or at the coffee shop in the morning giving everyone his two cents. He taught me the correct way to stand on a base while playing 1st base and always was willing to help me when asked how to do something. He always criticized me after basketball games because he never missed a home game but then made sure to tell me all the positives. I sure do appreciate this guy and all the help he has given me. His poems were a wonderful read and I’m sure the rest are just as grand. My heart is heavy for him but I am glad he has an outlet.

    1. Wendy – Kenny has my published poetry book and I am sure he would lend it to you to read. Your words are very encouraging. I have always thought that a good coach will point out the things the player is doing wrong, but just as important the things the player is doing right. You were very receptive. Life’s problems are similar.
      Ted

  10. Dear Ted, What a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to Dot. Thank you so much for sharing. 2016 was truly a difficult year. I miss seeing the two of you each time I visited with my mother. You were wonderful neighbors for so many years. Blessings to you. Sheryl Vincent

    1. Sheryl – I watched you grow up and being a neighbor was as important to me as to you. Thank you for your encouraging words.
      Ted

  11. This is beautiful, Ted. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us through your poetry!

    1. Benjamin – Thank you for your support. Ted

  12. Ted, these poems touch my heart. You and Dot were always special people to our family while we girls were growing up and Dot was always such a special friend to our mother. If Mother were still here, you two could support each other on your difficult journey through this disease. She took care of Dad for so many years. You are a blessing for Dot and you will be blessed for it. Mary Ann Enslow Kibbe

    1. Mary Ann – You did a very supporting job through your response because it is in the sharing of what one goes through that we are comforted. Your mother and Dot were indeed very good friends. Dot cherished the friendship and we, the family are warmed by that association.
      Thank you for your words of encouragement.
      Ted

  13. Such heart warming words and they came from your heart, Ted. You both were special to me those many years ago. I have often thought of you both.
    My love and prayers will be with you both. Thank you for sharing your love for Dot in this way.

  14. Donna – I watched you grow up. You cut my hair. I watched you on television with the Wichita Methodist choir. Community is good. Thank you for your encouraging words.
    Ted

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