One Lonely House and One Lonely Man
- Published on Tuesday, 23 April 2013 19:36
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
(June and Stan's Home at 6025 Gardena Lane - One Lonely House)
A story in poetry of the day that June left our home at 6025 Gardena Lane to spend the rest of her days in an Alzheimer’s care facility...and the loneliness that resulted and was to be my life thereafter. This poem was created during a day of loneliness following cancellation of the day's normal activities (Bible Study at our Redeemer Lutheran Church) due to a late spring snowstorm in the area of our home.
One Lonely House and One Lonely Man
Come walk around this lonely house with me…
I have nothing here to sell you.
Just some things that I would tell you...
Of a lonely house that June once made a home.
Before the day…that Alzheimer’s took June away.
A Wednesday in March was the day...
that June went away.
Over there sits our old chairs.
Where June would often sit with me…
And softly say: “I love you Stan!”
June is now gone from our home forever …
And this lonely house will never again be a home…
Without June and the Love that we once knew...
Just one lonely house with one lonely man…
and the long lonely nights.
Straight ahead…There’s our bed.
Where we lay, loved and talked together.
See June’s picture on the table…
Doesn’t June look like she'd be able...
to touch me and say…good morning Stan!
In those days when June made this house a home…
Now…Just one lonely house and one lonely man...
and the long lonely nights.
Come walk around this house with me…
one lonely house with one lonely man…
There's June’s rings and all her things…
June’s clothes are all still in the closets.
The refrigerator door with all of ...
...June’s notes, photos , and knacks...
Just as June left them on that day...
that June went away...
That Day my world was torn apart.
that lonely day that broke my heart...
a Wednesday in March was the day.
That Alzheimer’s took June away.
Come walk around this house with me…
I have nothing here to sell you...
Just some things that I would tell you!
Of one lonely house and one lonely man…
and the long lonely nights.
( June and Stan at 6025 Gardena Lane on the day before June left our home forever - 15 March 2005.)
Notes: The idea for this poem came from a Country Western hit song called “The Grand Tour” by George Jones (1974) …that song was a very different theme about a separated couple and their home but it gave me the idea of the home as the centerpiece for my story…I simply used this idea to totally rewrite the lyrics around June and our home at 6025 Gardena Lane and the resulting tragedy of June’s Alzheimer’s. June went into an Alzheimer's facility on 16 March of 2005, in the beginning of her 9th year of her journey into the shadows of Alzheimer's.
The photo immediately above these notes shows June and Stan in the kitchen of our home at 6025 Gardena Lane on the day (15 March 2005) before June left our home forever, to spend the rest of her remaining days in an Alzheimer's treatment facility. June's face has a faded look. The refrigerator door referred to in the poem above with June's notes, photos and knacks can be seen in the center background.
Stan's Journal for the Day that June left our Home Forever
"Late in the day on Wednesday the 16th of March 2005 I sent the following email to our children and grandchildren telling them of June’s departure to the Wellstead of Rogers. “This morning at 10:00 AM, Dan and Diane picked up Mom to go to the Wellstead of Rogers...As I watched them drive away it seemed like a part of my life drained away with them. Surely the light of my life had left our home."
"Our grandson Steven was sitting with me at the kitchen window as we watched through tear filled eyes, the unfolding of June’s departure."
"God did give me a gift today. I have been very mad at God but he did answer my last prayer. I asked him for a peaceful 24 hours before Mom’s departure. It was a nice 24 hours. Mom did not fall into one of the Alzheimer’s angry and cruel moods where I would be the enemy. Instead I was once again her friend. Earlier this morning Mom had one of her normal morning sad periods where she cried and looked so unhappy. I would as usual hug her and tell her everything would be all right. This morning for the hour before Dan and Diane’s arrival, Mom and I sat on the couch and held hands and I told her how much I loved her and that I would always love her and that she was the light of my life. She slept briefly with her head on my shoulder. She played the Clavinova for the last few minutes before Dan and Diane’s arrival. Her departure was peaceable.
June was told that Dr. Stein wanted her to see a place to help her. Steven stayed over night with us last night and was helpful...Gretchen also spent much of her day yesterday with us as she has done so much in the past. Last night Dave and Khim came and took us to Champps for dinner. Khim gave Mom a foot and leg massage afterwards that relaxed her for bed.** Julie came over and put Mom to bed as she has done every night this week. I worry so much about how her evenings will be the first few days. I worry that she will be afraid at night in a strange place alone. Please give her your prayers. When June left she did not know she would not be returning."
June and Alzheimer's
June’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis came in late January 1998 after June noted short term memory problems during 1997. June in her role as a nursing home visitor, knew at a very early date, the blackness and the depth of the distant approaching Alzheimer’s storm clouds. June displayed a concern for me. I remember well that Sunday (Ca. 1999) when June brought home the “Care Notes” pamphlet from our church - “Handling Grief as a Man.” She said nothing; just left it out for me to find and to read. I also remember the time that she detected one of my episodes of emotional sadness as I watched her illness progress. She tried to console me by saying “Don’t worry, I will be alright Stan!” I am sure at the time, we both really knew otherwise. June always put others before herself.
Thereafter, I lost June slowly, tear drop by tear drop during her long and exhausting journey into the shadows of Alzheimer’s that lasted for almost 12 years.
(June and Stan at 6025 Gardena Lane - May 2002 - June in 5th year of Alzheimer's)
For the first 8 plus years I took care of June at our home. The first 6 years of these years were relatively easy years that only required accommodation for her short term memory problems. We continued to travel extensively and did the many things we had put off in past years. In Years 7 and 8 the disease started closing in on us as we saw June’s personality changes and eventually hallucinations and behavioral changes. In year 9, June went into a nursing home. As the disease progressed she had seizures, lost ability to walk or talk, had difficulty swallowing, eating, and became incontinent. During the last year and a half, she rarely opened her eyes or even responded. Aspiration pneumonia, a common Alzheimer’s complication ended her life.
June gave me a lifetime of unconditional love during our 56 year’s marriage and a life with only the regret that it is now over and that June has had to suffer the horrors of Alzheimer's. I owe her and God an unending debt! When God placed June in my life it was as if I had won the Grand Prize in the lottery of Life! June's passing was as if a most beautiful symphony that played during our life together, had now ceased to exist!
Before June's Alzheimer's diagnosis, our world and her character and personality were represented by a vast sea of bright and beautiful lights. After her Alzheimer's diagnosis, these bright lights all begin to slowly dim. As June slowly slipped deeper into the shadows of Alzheimer's, the lights gradually flickered out one by one. Eventually the time came during the last two years of her life, when the brightness that marked our world and June’s life was replaced by one of darkness.
June rarely ever opened her eyes to a world that was then alien and strange to her. June had become so tired, exhausted and weary that in the last year of her life she lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield. God mercifully took June home on the 23rd of October 2008.
June's passing leaves me with an emptiness that can never be filled! I am reminded of the words by John F. Nim:
"For should your hands drop white and empty - All the toys of the world would break."
Amy Stiel Almas - Waterford, Michigan - (23 April 2013): "Oh Stan..this brought tears to my eyes! I think not only of you but my Mom who could write the same poem...(18 May 2013): "She has the brightest smile"
Fae Lee (Pixi) - Victoria, Australia – (23 April 2013): “Hi Stan, … I think I may have first "met" you on one of the Alz or Dementia FB groups a while back. I have early dementia myself, so I can't always recall these things… I do follow your blog from time to time. I very much feel your loneliness and grief ...I understand the distress…Just thinking of you. Please take care & keep up the writing! God Bless you for your work keeping this terrible disease in the public eye. Regards from… Australia.”
Erma Yates - Prior Lake, Minnesota - (24 April 2013): "I think it is a beautiful poem, Stan. Write always what your heart feels, not worrying too much what others thinks. They have not walked in your shoes..."
Susan Hughes - Ballarat, Victoria, Australia - (24 April 2013): "Your story is my dads except he is dealing with the loneliness at home whilst visiting his wife of 65 years in a high security dementia care home. Mum is still mobile at the moment, sometimes wheelchair bound but no longer knows us. Dad visits every day but it is breaking his heart watching the woman he loves declining so fast. It hurts watching this happen to my mum but it is even worse what this hideous disease is doing to my dad. Thank you Stanton for sharing your story and your poem. I hope you can find some peace in knowing that June is now at peace. Take care...(26 April 2013): "Stan, because of the snow storm you wrote a brilliant poem which I for one has been enriched by. Perhaps Bible Study was meant to be missed for a reason. "
Karen Butcher Rexroad - (24 April 2013): "Alone is not a great life. So sorry you feel this sadness. Perhaps tomorrow there will be sunshine!!!"
Sandy Williams Spencer - Phoenix, Arizona - (24 April 2013): "You're in all our thoughts, Stan. It has to be the saddest ever to lose a spouse of so many years."
Maura - Buddy Bear - Dublin, Ireland - (24 April 2013): "Stanton it broke my heart , my mother is in the final stages of Alzheimhers she is the same age as barbara, (my mother) and i am now living in the family home alone . It really struck a cord with me and made me cry...(6 October 2013): "... you are an exceptional man, I have the utmost admiration for you, June is with you in spirit , you have a purpose in life , you are on my prayer list. God Bless you."
Vicki Cadogan - Limerick, Ireland - (25 April 2013): "Just beautiful Stan, your love for June always brings a tear to my eye."
Anne Moghraby - Solihull, United Kingdom - (26 April 2013): "This is so wonderful when I visit Dad there is an empty chair where Mum used to sit the home is not the same any more, but he is coping in his own way."
Dementia Living Communities - Los Angeles, California - (8 September 2013): "This is so emotionl ...Thanks for sharing."
Martina Kaut - Furtwengen, Germany - (8 September 2013): "Even though it´s all so sad, it´s also just amazing beautiful what you wrote that day ... the snow storm happened for a reason ... "you wrote this sad but wonderful poem...Thank you that you share your wonderful unique love story with us all ... your story of life always reminds me to be humble and grateful for all the blessings that God placed in my life, and not to complain about things which I do not have even though I would like to have them. Yes...my life is perfect... because God always is in control!"
Marsha McKneely Ault - Nacogdoches, Texas (8 September 2013): "I just said a prayer in your behalf. One day soon you will see your June again. . . with great lights and rejoicings in heaven."
Alzheimer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, Inc. - Mount Pearl, Newfoundland - (9 september 2013): "It's definitely a big transition and we really appreciate you sharing your experiences! All the best - Amelia White, Events Coordinator."
Julie Stuart - Fochabers, Scotland, United Kingdom - (9 September 2013): "OMG Stan I was in tears reading that...thank you very much for sharing your journey with us...luv to you..."
Mimi Taylor Nataro - Hicksville, New York - (9 September 2013):"Thank you Stan, for sharing this & all that is in your heart. I wish I had the ability to do this, as you do for others....June was blessed to have you in her life (as you were to have her)."
Terry Shepherd - Warsaw, Indiana - (5 Octobetr 2013): "If only I could find a companion with half the heart that you have. May I post your poem on my blog at Word Press?"
Kath Jean Rennie - Manchester, United Kingdom - (5 October 2013): "My heartfelt love to you, Stan...Beautiful, Sincere memories...I'm sure she was truely loved by you."
Richard Criscione - Cliffside Park, New Jersey -(5 October 2013):"You were also gifted by God with a high intelligence, which helps you channel some of the loneliness into positive activities . Loneliness still prevails ,but ,you have remained stoic,and your faithful dedication to June is always present. Happy, and proud, to have you as a friend, and member, on this page, despite the circumstances of which have brought us here ..."
Jessica Tablett - Fresno, California -(5 October 2013): "Oh how beautiful her light must have been. Her light now lives inside you. It is bright enough to light your way. Throughout the house no longer lonely, for she is in your heart. Let her light shine everytime you talk about her and she will live on."
Julian Kruger - Miami, Florida- (5 October 2013): "I commend you all you do for Alzheimer's and Dementia.Hopefully one day there won't be a need any longer."
Bonnie Seip - Ottsville, Pennsylvania - (6 October 2013):"What a BEAUTIFUL POEM .. Again I Teared up , you have many memories in this beautiful home ... And June is still with you in your heart and ALWAYS ON YOUR MIND ... Many many big hugs... You are a special friend of mine and I enjoy all of your posts about June, it shows the love you had for such a wonderful , beautiful woman...God Bless you ."
Christine Pickard - United Kingdom - (6 October 2013): "Stanton, beautiful, I still read your posts, on my mobile."
Kathy Mundy-McGeehan - Tamaqua, Pennsylvania - (6 October 2013): "Stan, I know what loneliness feels like and its how you handle it. I thought I could and found it overwhelmed me to much. After my first love passed life was a new thing to me, we were so inseparable. God placed Kevin in my life and I hung on, now he has dementia and I know I will face loneliness again. It terrifies me but I know now how I will handle it. Surrounding myself with my children and grandchildren and learning who I am finally. I commend you for your daily givings to June's memory. God Bless you!"
Lorraine Mottershead - Manchester, United Kingdom - (6 October 2013): "Aw bless you, my Dad is the same 6 month ago i brought him to live with me, he is 88 and was with my Mam over 54 years. lost Mam 2 years ago ."
Brian Stjohn - Blanchester, Ohio - (7 October 2013): "Mom has dementia and it is so hard to go through. I lost my dad in Nov. of last year of heart failure. My mom is all I got left, yet it is just a shell of her. I pray some day we can find a cure . God bless you Stanton for this page."
June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label - or just Click on: