Fighting to keep a grip as it all slips away… Dementia

Hello, it’s me!

I am…

Here I am, of course!

I’m not doing anything much…

It’s just one of those days.

Who are you?

Oh, you are… yes…

Ah yes, you!

Do I know you?


Today is…

It is now… Silly.

I am me and I am here…

What do you want?

Why are you here?

Thank you for coming…

Or is it me?

Are they here?

Where are we?


My family,

My children… yes…

They are… around

Somewhere… You know…

I saw you!

I haven’t seen them.

They were here…

Doing this and that.

They don’t come anymore…

Who are you?


It’s gone!

Did you take it?

I had it…

Before… it was here.

I think I’m lost.

I was here…

Or there?

But the light fell out.

I’m scared.

It’s gone.

Where have they gone?


Yes, you are… Thingy!

That one…

Aren’t you?

I forget!

Pleased to meet you!

I’m tired.

Where am I again?

Can I go home now?


In Memory of Dick Haynes

AR was one of Daddy’s few friends in Graemsay. He wrote this in memory of him.

In memory of Dick Haynes


When the moon comes flying over the sea

and the call of the curlew reaches me,

when sunrise turns the stony shore to jewels,

and golden dewdrops gleam on mushroom stools,

I think of island days, oh days of old,

and some were days of grey and some were gold.


We talked of trailers, tackle, a boats prow,

oh many things. And I remember how

we talked the sun down to the ocean’s rim,

and messed about until the yard grew dim.


Oh man, what days were they that passed us by,

under the wind’s wail and the gulls’ cry.

Never another day, oh never another day

and some were days of gold, and some were days of grey.


                                                                       A.R  Copyright




“SOLILOQUY January 2007 – on hearing that Avril will not be returning to Graemsay.


When I think of you I see flowers

pushing through the ragged grass

and you in your garden.

I keep the picture in my head.

In the tall grass of a garden

where wall meets wall at an angle

and little trees thrive, spore of silver lichen sweat

for times gone by.

I hear the roaring shingle at the shore

and see the moonlight

on the ocean’s rim.

The stars in the sky are singing tonight;

a myriad stars are singing and dancing.

One star alone is silent, drifts

down the night, silent.

I rage but she does not hear me.” 

AR 2007.

Waller – by A.R.


This poem is in tribute to the many stone walls that Mammy laboured for many years to build on her land to protect her sapling trees…


‘Waller’ by A.R.


Stone waller, my dear, dry-stoned and love laboured.

With stone all day labours, lovingly,

each stone caresses. No line;

eye alone is her level.

Stone waller, my dear, day long

in her garden. Dogged. Stubborn.

Stone from the shore, sea quarried,

wheelbarrowed and muscled,

stone-bedded and blessed. Stone,

stone, stone,


shelters rose, willow, wren.

Avril – by A.R.

My mother lived over 20 years on the island of Graemsay in Orkney, in a home called “Clett”. My father died there in 1995 and within years, in her 50s, my mother – Avril – was diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s. Cared for for many years by a gracious community in the island she loved, here is a poem, written by a friend on the island. Copyright A.R.


‘Avril’  by A.R.  February 2007


If you came by Windbreck over the hill

or by Scarataing under the broken cliffs

to the silent house above the shore

it would be the same: your wall stands firm

and the tall ships of your willows blow

and all is well.


The raggle-taggle fuchsia by the garden door

in hard midwinter waits

and in the rank grass sleeping now,

Veronica, wild iris, rose, montbretia, meadowsweet

in innocence and silence wait

and all is well.


A stone hut by the shore

stone on stone to the eaves,

a flagged roof, a plank door.

Remains of tackle, tar, caulk, creel,

scraps of net like lace.


The season passes.

From the South West a breeze

bringing hope and resurrection.


Her Circle of Friends


Today she lights one candle for the birthday of her circle of friends.

She recalls how she gently delivered them all at once and joined their hands tightly together

Forming them carefully into a circle

Beholding them all with the nervous love of an inexperienced mother…

She held close the baby swaddled in a papoose, to free her hands

To hold the small fist of the toddler on her left,

Who clung to the four year old at her side…

Right around the circle she gazed with awe, recognising them from the photographs

Incrementally ordered, growing and aging in a stepped time-frame,

She knew quite well the lady affirming her connection to her right hand.

To look with love and silently affirm was all she could do

Before scooping them all back inside with a promise –

Grateful for the introduction to these familiar strangers –

She would behold them all again soon,

And one by one, she would hear their stories.


Yesterday and today Sue has been experiencing an incredible sensation of hope and of joy. This has come from the revelation that she can never earn her innocence or salvation. To get it right, to live by the rules, all these things are impossible to achieve in their totality. But that is the good news of Jesus – by believing in him, we appropriate His innocence, as the person bringing the spotless lamb in times past did (he would place a hand on the head of the innocent lamb and exchange his sin for the lamb’s purity. The lamb carrying the sin and guilt would then be sacrificed in his place and he would have been given pardon) And Jesus came to restore that lost innocence for all people, for all time. If we believe He carried ALL of our sinfulness to the cross and was sacrificed to bring innocence and peace to us, then we can live with the innocence of God in our lives and freedom from guilt and sin, with no need to earn righteousness or work hard to be good, as we become innocent again in Jesus. This is a major shift in Sue’s understanding of the gospel and one that makes salvation, freedom and hope possible. In her own strength she can never be good enough, never be perfect or holy, but in Jesus she is already good enough and there is nothing she needs to add. He has done it all. Wow!!! She had heard all this before, but not known it as she does now, so she wants to remind herself everyday how wonderful it is and how it works, because it is awesome! Praise be to the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who has made this possible, to restore us to the relationship with Him that He intended when God first said “Let us make man in our image”…

How wonderful! Sue then went to pray through the reading of the day and grinned to read, “John 3:16-18

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

Exact confirmation of what the Spirit has been showing her. Jesus does not condemn her, but it is she who condemns herself when she tries to be good and get it all right in her own strength and through her own understanding. Those who do not believe are condemned to try to earn their own salvation, which is impossible. The grace to stand with confidence before God comes from faith in nothing but the loving sacrifice of Jesus. It is the only way. Thank you, thank you, thank you. She feels that the Holy Spirit has revealed the truth as an answer to Suzie’s questions; questions which Sue could not answer herself. Sue is overjoyed! This is the most wonderful, radical revelation of love and freedom that she has ever experienced for herself and herein lies the fountain of joy! Finally she can see it and her heart is bursting with laughter and love.

An Awesome Veil


Trundling by, fleetingly

From the window all is silent;

The whole vista veiled,

White gowned,

Evenly covering colour

Softening all form

Hushed; moulded,

Clothed, but revealing a greater glory

Than the temporal greys and smudged hues of winter earth.

River grey and ashen clouds holding their breath…

That which was of its own –

Rich in momentary splendour and beauty –

Surpassed and overwhelmed

By a fresh, pure down,

Delicately and graciously bestowing,

Unfolding revelation.

Dazzling white light

As heavenly curtains draw a gentle, baby blue,

Life-giving light consoling with warm promises

Ever present,

The source of joy to its bride – nature’s bride, adorned and ready –

Purified in time to rekindle beauty and vibrant colour

Richness and depth;

Blushing in her glory

She reflects the rays of her life,

Truth and mystery, clear as crystal

As precious pearls.

Still the flakes flutter and fall…


Train journey back to Germany – 4th January 1986

Bidden or not bidden –


In the spirit, soaring the selfless songs of the silent soul,

The Supreme Spirit is present –


In the limbs, labouring in the undulating land of the living,

The Lord of Life is present –

In the mind, climbing mountains for meaning and ambition,

The Majestic Maker is present –

In the heart, responding to the pulsating passions of perception,

The Prince of Peace is present –

In the victim, delving into valleys of survival, forgiveness and self-worth,

The loving Saviour is present –

In the spirit, soaring the selfless songs of the silent soul,

The Supreme Spirit is present –


Bidden or not bidden

God is present.