It is so very helpful to families
when a person has a DNR —
do not resuscitate order — making clear
what that person wants
when the circumstances of living
have changed dramatically.
Minimally, it means no CPR,
and, with orders for life sustaining treatment,
also includes guidelines
for ventilator and electric shock,
for hydration, medicines, feeding tubes,
but more than that
it means respecting the value of life
that a particular person has.
Today I am planning ahead,
advance directives, not yet POLST —
but now I am filling out my DND
to make perfectly clear
to all my family and friends —
that I want Do Not Dismiss.
If my eyes dim,
put stickers on the red checkers
and bumps on the board.
Keep playing with me
and don’t cheat to let me win.
If my ears fail,
take me to every gallery opening,
and to an opera with the translation
above the proscenium arch —
I always liked the costumes best.
I am not embarrassed
by a catheter or a stoma bag.
And my dance moves with the walker —
they’re rocking it.
Don’t take me off the committee.
Don’t expect me to need a nap,
or worry when I do.
Do not expect me suddenly to watch
soap operas and cooking shows.
Of course, I want my makeup —
some of the Uber drivers are cute.
But most of all — Do not dismiss me
when memory fails.
I am not as good as dead,
I am not lost or someone else.
And — wait for it —
dementia is not contagious.
So, visit me
and we will have more fun
than ever before.
Take me on vacation — I suggest Hawaii,
but also take a vacation from me.
Sing with me — I’m less self-conscious
and I store music
in the other side of my brain.
Walk with me in the woods
or the shore.
Take me to the movies,
and the Alzheimer’s café.
Bring the dog or the nail polish
(yes, purple. yes, my toes.)
an old photo album
or a new cozy mystery.
I may not remember it tomorrow,
but it will change your life.