June’s Song, Wendy Chalmers
My mom, June, had been diagnosed with dementia while my father was still alive but fighting prostate cancer and then leukemia. He covered for her and protected her during potential memory slips all the time. For example, he was always close by while my mom was on the phone, offering words for her that she couldn’t retrieve and names of forgotten places and people to fill in the blanks. It wasn’t until the end that he came to terms with her diagnosis and spoke to me about her care after he was gone.

She declined rapidly after he died and I had to arrange for personal support workers to be in her home 24 hours a day. It would have been nice to have had someone to reach out to for these and other tough changes in all of our lives.

One day I took my mom and my daughter to see the musical Carousel in Stratford. She enjoyed being with us, eating at her favorite Tim Horton’s restaurant but really didn’t understand where we were. She slept through much of the production but awoke with a start when she heard them singing the song “June is Bustin’ Out all Over”. She leaned over and said to me “They are singing that song just for me!”.I remembered that she had shared with me a long time ago that when she was in elementary school her classmates used to sing this song to her in a silly, almost mocking tone because of her name. Now she was pleased as punch that all of these performers were singing just for her! Sometimes you just have to see the humour and go with it.

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