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Her Name Is Heather - Losing My Sister To Alzheimer's Disease

Updated on December 27, 2020
vocalcoach profile image

Audrey's desire to help others respect and understand human behavior led her to study psychology at UCLA.


Symptoms Of Mild Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease affects people differently. This disease progresses in several stages: preclinical, mild (sometimes called early-stage), moderate, and severe (sometimes called late-stage). After extensive research, plus my sister's doctor's diagnoses, these are the most common symptoms in the early stages:

  • Problems coming up with the right word or name. Heather cannot recall most words
  • Trouble remembering names when introduced to new people
  • Having greater difficulty performing tasks in social or work settings.
  • Forgetting material that one has just read
  • Losing or misplacing a valuable object
  • Trouble handling money and bills
  • Increased anxiety

Who Will protect the innocent child?
Who Will protect the innocent child? | Source

Her Name Is Heather

Lashes laced with fringe

Feathering her beautiful face

The innocent child hides angel wings

Longing for a safer place

Her name is Heather

Afraid to eat from off her plate

Her trust is buried deep in fear

Reaching for her sisters food

Safe to swallow ghosts disappear

Her name is Heather

Rebellious spirit since her birth

Defying voices filled with rage

Unfair punishment lingers near

Beyond her years at any age

Her name is Heather

Senseless beatings fragile heart

To love or not to love

Scars wrapped in silk a tear apart

Too proud she wears them like a glove

Her name is Heather

Who will protect the innocent child?

Tornadoes whirl around her

Invisable rage a natural state

Poisons lurking to even the pure

Her name is Heather

The womans enemy now are seizures

Grand Mall is the name

Her body broken bruised and punished

The grown child there is no blame

Her name is Heather

Dementia steals her life away

Insideous thief of the mind

Grabbing chunks of memory

She cannot seem to find

Her name is Heather.

She is my sister in the dark

Trying to find her way

The time will come to claim her peace

"Take me home" is what she'll say

Her name is Heather.

God bless her for the life she lived

I'll miss her when she's gone

We'll only be a note apart

I'll find her hidden in my song.

Her name is Heather

Trying To Talk With Someone With Dementia

"So what did you do today?" (This is the third time my sister has asked me this same question.) A bit irritated I replied, "I told you...I went to the symphony." Then my sister asked again, "Who went with you?" My reply for the third time, "Randy."

Our phone conversation was getting on my nerves. My sister, Heather, had problems using the new cell phone. Every other sentence was interrupted by a dial tone. She wasn't the least bit aware of swiping the "end call" shown clearly on her cell phone.

This behavior is caused by dementia. Heather's long-term memory is amazingly clear. However her short-term memory is not. Seeing her slip in-and-out as my sister is like losing her again and again. It's tough!

Dementia Impacts Memory And Social Skills

Dementia refers not to a specific condition but a group of diseases that impact memory, thinking and social skills.
Dementia refers not to a specific condition but a group of diseases that impact memory, thinking and social skills. | Source

Feelings of Guilt

Once the conversation has ended with my sister, and my emotions have had time to cool down, I'm left with over-whelming feelings of guilt and sorrow. "Shame on me for being abrupt with her. What's wrong with me?" I tell myself, "Next time I'll be more patient and understanding." After all, it's not her fault.

Still I ask myself, "When the abusive behavior affects the quality of my own life is it okay to withdraw and stop talking to her?" I search for answers. How do I honor my own feelings and still be there for my sister?

In Conclusion

I feel that my sister is gone. I hear her voice but somehow it's changed. Even the look, the familiar eyes, the strong movements of her body, are under the spell of this devastating disease. I want to save her. I want to rescue my sister. I can do nothing.

My heart goes out to all those who suffer from Alzheimer's as well as those left trying so hard to understand what has happened to their loved one.

“I want to tell you how much I miss my mother. Bits of her are still there. I miss her most when I’m sitting across from her.”

– Candy Crowley

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2015 Audrey Hunt


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    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      2 years ago from Texas

      I think I missed this before, but it makes me teary now. Such an awful disease. I need to finish my novel about it. Life called me away, but lately I seem to keep getting reminded of it. Coming across this tonight is yet another reminder. Also, your phone call description is all too familiar for many. I remember being more patient near the end when it became clear my grandma had dementia. But I will never forget the day a few years prior to diagnosis when I became impatient about a repeated memory slip on a road trip. I said something to express my annoyance and she yelled at me. She never yelled at us so it stunned me. What stunned me more, though, was her words. She said, "It scares me, too. " That moment I realized she feared dementia and I had thought only about my irritation at missing the turn several times in a row. I didn't say another word.

    • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Hunt 

      2 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.


      Thank you so much for sharing your comments. I'm very sorry about the loss of your grandmother to Alzheimer's. As you've said, it isn't fair to have all the memories taken away. I send you best wishes, Ellison.


    • Ellison Hartley profile image

      Ellison Hartley 

      2 years ago from Maryland, USA

      I lost my grandmother to Alzheimer's it is a hard thing to go through with someone. It takes them away from us before they are physically gone. How unfair for someone to live a whole life and then have all their memories taken away? Thanks for sharing your experience, you described it well.

    • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Hunt 

      3 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Hi Kathy

      Thank you for being here. I'm sure you have a lot on your plate which makes your visit all the more meaningful. I appreciate your kind comments.

      May your day be filled with the sweetness of self-love.


    • KatWin profile image

      Kathy Burton 

      3 years ago from Florida

      Powerful poem.i especially liked the last stanza.

      Thanks for sharing.


    • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Hunt 

      4 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Hello dear Flourish. Thanks for visiting again. Candy Crowlery's quote says so much in these few words. I'm grateful for your hubs Flourish. They bring me a wonderful, enjoyable escape from life's challenges.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      I'm back to read this. It's sadly familiar. Candy Crowley's quote brings tears to my eyes.

    • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Hunt 

      5 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      ladyguitarpicker - Apologies for this late response. Your comments are so valuable, Kids do deserve better than this. And yes, dear Stella, music is a cloud of comfort especially when we are feeling helpless. My best to you.


    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 

      5 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Vocalcoach, Thank you for this wonderful poem that you have written on child abuse. Kids deserve better than this, and everyone knows right from wrong. I feel your pain and I think music helps,anyway it helps me. Thanks, Stella

    • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Hunt 

      5 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Dear Peggy - You've left a very important comment here. "Child abuse impacts entire families and even society as a whole. One never knows the demons some people carry around in their souls."

      So powerful and true. Just one more reason we must not be so quick to judge. Thank you also for seeing my own hurt.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      You have written so beautifully regarding the torment your sister suffered as a child and into her adulthood. Very sad situation. I hope that she finds peace and solace somehow in this life. Heaven awaits her with open and welcoming arms when it is her time to enter that realm.

      This is so touching and sends a powerful message. I could feel the hurt you experienced as her sister also. Sharing this with others.

      Child abuse impacts entire families and even society as a whole. One never knows the demons some people carry around in their souls.

    • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Hunt 

      6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      tony55 - You have really interpreted my poem with deep insight. I'm grateful and thank you so much.

    • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Hunt 

      6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      annart - Your kind comments mean so much. Thank you.

      torrilyn - Thank you. I appreciate your visit.

    • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Hunt 

      6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      FlourishAnyway - I so agree with you my friend. If only people would stop and think before hurting a child. Abuse may satisfied some kind of warped need but the damage lasts a lifetime. Thank you!

      marcoujor - Child (and animal) abuse is devastating to the victim. It

      also affects siblings as guilt creeps in. A terrible thing!

      Thank you dear friend and peace and harmony.


      mcbirdbks - I treasure your kind words Mike. Your heart is full of love.

      Enjoy every minute of your incredible life.



    • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Hunt 

      6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Mekenzie - Hello my friend. Thank you so much for reading my poetry and taking time to comment. Very touching. Peace and harmony to you!

      Jodah - Thanks for your comments and constant support. You're the best!

      wordswithlove - Child abuse and neglect is such a terrible thing. Lives are changed forever. Thank you.

      Hope Centre - (Love this name.) My heart just breaks for all the helpless abused children in the world. I wanted to protect my sister. I'll always feel this way. Thank you for your tender comments.


      fpherj48 - Dear Paula. Isn't child abuse just the worst? I absolutely can't stand to hear of child and animal abuse. It keeps me awake at night. I want to "fix it" but can't. What's wrong with some people? If they can't show love to children and animals they shouldn't have them!

      Your words are tender and caring and I thank you sweet friend.



    • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Hunt 

      6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Victoria Lynn - Thank you lovely lady! Appreciate your thoughts.

      mary615 - Yes, and I just want her to be free and feel loved. Thanks.

      Harishprasad - Thank you my friend. Your thoughtful words are most touching. Blessings.

      jhamann - Thank you kindly Jamie. I appreciate your comments.

      Perspycacious - You are so right. One case of child abuse is too much. I didn't realize abuse is so rampant in the Middle East.

    • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Hunt 

      6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      ChitrangadaSharan - Thank you for letting me know you can almost visualize Heather. I really wanted to hear this. Your kind comments are very much appreciated.

      Walk in peace and harmony dear friend.

      always exploring - I hate when this happens and it's occurred several times for me. You are absolutely right when you say that children need a voice. How can we make this happen? I wish I knew. Thank you my precious friend for your comments and for all the support you've given me thru the years here on HP. You are truly a treasure!

      billybuc - Sadly, this may be true. I wish it were not so. Thanks dear friend for being here.



    • tony55 profile image


      6 years ago from Nigeria

      lovely words, i feel the protective arm,despair and pain.

    • torrilynn profile image


      6 years ago

      beautiful indeed

    • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Hunt 

      6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      bravewarrior - I wanted so much to protect her - I'm 2 years older. Thank you dear Sha for contributing with your great comments.

      Diogenes - Thank you Bob. My first visitor!

      always exploring - Dear Ruby, I can't thank you enough for the kind comments. If only something could be done to fix this horrific problem. Thank you for sharing. On some level this just may help.



      cam8510 - You're welcome! Your words ring true my friend. Child abuse happens too often. If only there were a solution. Thank you.

      janshares - Thanks so much Jan for your beautiful, touching words. I really appreciate you!

      tillsontitan - Your precious heart comes through in your comments Mary.

      Thank you so much for your generous votes and for sharing.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      6 years ago from SW England

      Sad and so beautiful. The raw emotion is palpable. Well done.


    • mckbirdbks profile image


      6 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      What a hauntingly beautiful contribution to Poetry Month. Plenty of artistry to be found here.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Somber and powerful delivery of a tragic message - Heather becomes quite real to me as Heather should never be forgotten.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      So sad. There are too many Heathers that live in fear and sadness. Thanks for shining light on her plight.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Carson City

      Audrey....touching, gripping, heart feels heavy and my eyes fill with tears....but the love you exude softens and comforts. Blessings to both you and Heather.......Love & Hugs, Paula

    • Hope Centre profile image

      Hope Centre 

      6 years ago

      A complete summary in a short poem of her life..and very touching also. ..touched by her sufferings and your helplessness...

    • wordswithlove profile image

      Neetu M 

      6 years ago from USA

      Very tragic and touching, Audrey. I have seen a great number of children being abused and not one deserves to be treated this way. :(

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      6 years ago from Gondwana Land

      This is such a sad and touching poem Audrey. Voted up. Thank you for writing this.

    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 

      6 years ago from Michigan

      Deeply touched by this tribute to Heather. I am sure, Audrey, that her load was lightened in your presence because that is just the kind of loving person you are.

      Beautifully moving. Up and across and shared.



    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 

      6 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Child abuse is mentioned specifically in the Holy Bible and millstones are the least of the abuser's acknowledged punishments. In some Middle East countries it is rampant, but one case is one too many. Up and scored.

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      6 years ago from Reno NV

      What a beautiful tribute. So well written with such passion. Thank you for sharing. Jamie

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 

      6 years ago from New Delhi , India

      Heather was an very affectionate sister. Your passionate words tell it all. Sad that she faced such turmoil that she couldn't bear more. This is a great tribute to her. I'm sorry for your loss. I wish her soul all peace and pray God to let her touch all the desired shores !

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Poor sad Heather! She will be protected from harm now that she is an Angel.

      Voted UP, and shared.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I agree with what Bill said: sadly beautiful. I love it.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I think some people are sent to this life to suffer for the rest of is their lot in life to absorb some of the suffering....your poem is sadly beautiful

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I commented earlier but it didn't post. I loved this. It is sad. Abused children need a voice such as yours. Beautiful poetry! Shared..

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      6 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Beautiful and heart touching poem, nicely expressed!

      I can almost visualize 'Heather'. Very well done, voted up and shared on HP!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      This is so real it brought tears to my eyes. Any child's suffering is hard to take. You really do know how to write poetry that touches the heart.

      Voted up, awesome, beautiful, and interesting.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      6 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      A powerful account that represents so many innocent souls. Thanks for sharing this poem with us.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Audrey, this is so sad. Abused children need a voice. Beautifully written. I loved this..Shared..

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      This is a touching tribute to Heather. Your expression of her is so moving, vocalcoach. Thank you for sharing her with us. God bless her and you. Voted up and beautiful.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      Wow, Audrey! This poor child has personal demons infiltrating her mind at such a young age. And then she finds peace. Sad, well-written tale.

    • diogenes profile image


      6 years ago from UK and Mexico




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