Poetry and Alzheimer's: Iliana's connection

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Poetry and Alzheimer's: Iliana's connection



What does a 10-year old know about Alzheimer’s? One would think “not much,” so we were surprised when our daughter Iliana chose to write on that topic for the West Roxbury Annual Poetry Contest for All Ages. The theme for this year’s competition was Alone/Together, and Iliana’s submission won first place in her age category. As the judge and critic Mary Pinard said, “The poem creates a mood of empathy and insight” into the world of someone living with Alzheimer’s.

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I asked Iliana how this poem came about, and it is a testimony to SYNERGY HomeCare of Boston truly being a family business. Even the kids get involved! Last September, we participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and raised money toward SYNERGY HomeCare's national goal. We explained to our girls what Alzheimer’s is and how it affects the mind. We also told them of the many people in our family history who’d been diagnosed with the illness, all who were gone before our girls got to meet them. Our girls solicited donations from neighbors and church members and proudly wore their t-shirts on that Sunday morning. There were plastic pinwheel flowers there, and Sophia and Iliana wrote the names of those loved ones on the petals. When I asked her about the poem, Iliana said that this walk made an impression on her, mostly the sheer number of people who participated, all the names, faces, and lives that had been affected. You can read more about the walk in the Sept 28, 2016 blog.

Shortly after the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Iliana was in art class at school, and the teacher told them to draw something and then write about it. With the walk in her mind, she drew what she imagined this disease to be like: a person with a “halo” around his head, with images of books, clocks, traffic signs, and faces filling the semi-circle in a confused jumble. Unfortunately, the notebook got lost and she doesn’t have that drawing anymore, or I’d include a photo. What she does have is the poem.

At the same time as the art class, her English Language Arts teacher was introducing poetry and gave them William Carlos Williams’ poem “The Red Wheelbarrow” to read. The phrase “so much depends on” grabbed Iliana’s attention and provided the format for “Alzheimer’s”. It resonated with the sense of confusion and loss that she wanted to express.

Alzheimer’s

By Iliana Sakellariou

So much depends on my knowing
of what to do or where to go

So much depends on my wondering
when will it stop?
why am I here?

So much depends on my health
Taking care of myself
Remembering

Slowly my memory fades
How do I eat?
Who are you?
Who am I?

So much depends on me.

These are deep thoughts for a 10-year old! She was so pleased to be chosen as winner for 5th grade.

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The Friends of West Roxbury Library host this poetry contest every year, now in its 28th year. So much talent was shared, and we were awed by some of the creative and thoughtful poems that were read at the awards ceremony May 4th. Starting with kindergarten and going up to seniors, people wrote about family, nature, community and many other interpretations of the theme “Alone Together”. The poems of the winners and honorable mentions were compiled into a collection, and this small book is available at the branch library, 1961 Centre St, West Roxbury.

WP 20170529 006Several of the poets in the senior category had wonderful poems that reminded us of our work with SYNERGY HomeCare, poems of aging, loss, and caring for loved ones. The poems brought beauty to these themes.

At SYNERGY HomeCare, our goal is to bring beauty and peace to the lives of our clients. Whether it’s assistance with household duties or the calm of companionship or the enjoyment of a walk in nature or a trip to the hairdresser’s, our caregivers are ready to improve the quality of your loved one’s life and add beauty to their day.

Shannon Sakellariou
Shannon Sakellariou

Shannon has devoted her life to service, teaching for almost 20 years and serving as a missionary educator in Albania for four years. Her work with SYNERGY HomeCare of Greater Boston will continue that service, as she works with families and clients to meet their individual home care needs. Her motivation is the joy she finds in building relationships and finding solutions for each person's unique situation.

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