Frances H. Kakugawa
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

Frances Kakugawa, a native of Kapoho on Hawai‘i island, was her mother’s primary caregiver during her five-year journey with Alzheimer’s disease.

Omoiyari . . . Think of others first and good karma will return to you. — Frances H. Kakugawa

Dear Frances,

Do you know what bothers me at times? When I see my wife Fran just sleeping, unable to speak anymore. I wonder if she’s comfortable or if she’s in pain. I wish I knew what she was thinking. I can’t tell. I know she is still here because when I kiss her and tell her I love her, sometimes there’s a smile on her face. Before she got ill, she was a very spiritual person and she believed she would be with her mother someday. They were very close. I like to think maybe she’s with her when she’s peacefully lying there.

I wrote this poem after thinking of what she would say to me if she could speak. Reading this comforted me, so thank you for encouraging us to write poems.

Bob Oyafuso

Sacramento, Calif.

MY LIFE

Don’t fret, Bob, I’m in a very good place.

I’m being fed, bathed and cared for like a precious baby.

I am at peace and unencumbered by the burdens of daily life.

Sibling quarrels or political strife do not faze me.

Just think, no more housecleaning, especially
vacuuming.

All of my needs are met, freeing me from earthly concerns.

I feel connected to my mother and those who
preceded her.

I have no fear of what awaits me and I feel love.

I know not time or tomorrow; I know only now.

© Bob Oyafuso

This is beautiful, Bob.

Once again, you have confirmed the therapeutic power of writing poetry, which can help to reinvent the truth that is before us and create a new truth. In your instance, the truth of seeing Fran being nonresponsive brings questions of concern to you. But giving her voice, as you did, changes that silence.

Writing poetry demands constant decisions. Do I write about her silence and my grief, or do I bring back her former voice, her voice that used to always comfort me? Your decision to go with the latter brought you comfort and a sense of being in communication with Fran. I hope you are reading this poem to Fran. I believe there are moments when the window to her brain opens and she will be in the present. You can believe she hears this poem and is so grateful that you are tuned in to her silence.

Readers: You may want to take the voice of the one you are caring for and write a poem. What would they be saying to comfort you? Don’t forget to bring in humor. We need all the laughs and chuckles we can get. And will you share your poems here in the Herald?

Thank you again, Bob, for sharing your poem and thoughts.

Frances

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