“Dances from a White Wicker Drawer” is about memories, or rather what’s left of them.
One of the first patients I had met as a hospice patient support volunteer was a once-vibrant woman named Alice (name changed), who was suffering from late-stage Alzheimer’s disease, a disease characterized by significant memory loss and cognitive decline. As I’ve seen so many times before, Alzheimer’s disease reduces patients to shadows of their former selves— disorient-ed and unable to recognize even their own family members.
I was told when I met her that her entire life story was sitting in a white wicker drawer at the side of her bed— letters she wrote to her son while she lived in Canada running the family business, pictures of her son at his wedding, pictures of her father’s farm. Whenever I would visit, I would read the letters and show her pictures. There were precious moments when Alice remembered, and she would point to a picture, exclaiming “that’s my SON!”, only to lose all recognition moments later.
This piece is inspired by pictures and letters I found in that drawer, and the precious memories that are fading day by day. I found out a few months ago that Alice had passed away, and that the remnants of memories she held on to had disappeared forever.
I— A Stormy Countryside
II— A Wedding Waltz
III— A Mountain Vista
IV— Finale and Epilogue
Dances from a White Wicker Drawer