Diane and her mum, Valerie, in Brighton, 2008

'My Mum, My Mate' - Diane's dementia poem tribute to her mother

Diane wrote a moving poem about the changing relationship with her mother, Valerie, who had Alzheimer's disease. When her mother passed away, Diane read her poem, 'My Mum, My Mate' at the funeral.

My mum, Valerie, was born in Cleethorpes on 11 April 1936, and lived in Grimsby.

She met my dad, Tony, whilst at a dance. They enjoyed dancing most of their lives. Mum married my dad in June 1958. I was born the following year in December, and my sister in August 1966.

Mum was diagnosed with dementia when she was about 66 years old. Later, at about 72, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Three photobooth images of Valerie and Diane in the 60s and 80s

Connection to dementia

My mother's mum was diagnosed with vascular dementia around 80 years old, after her husband's death in 1986.

My mother's brother, Ron, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease after my mother, although he was older. He passed away 18 months after my mother, his sister. He was looked after by his wife until she could not cope.

Diane's mother, Valerie

Caring for Mum

My father looked after my mother for a few years until it became too much for him. She then lived in a residential home in the village where my parents live, on the outskirts of Hull.

Mum always enjoyed trips out in the car with Dad and me. She also liked afternoon visits from Dad with Skype calls from my sister, Barbara, who lives in New Zealand.

Mum lived in the same care home as her own mother. I was told that sometimes Mum would wander into the room that years before her mother had lived in.

She would leave a dressing gown on the bed of room number seven (my grandma's room) and tell the carers it was for her mother.

Diane's mum, Valerie, in 2014

Losing Mum

Mum lived approximately 13 years after her diagnosis. She fell in a care home toilet and became very ill after that. She passed away in 2015, aged 79 years. It was five months before her 80th birthday.

I wrote the following poem about the changing relationship with my mother. Although written a few years before, I ended up reading it at my mum's funeral five years ago.

My Mum, My Mate

by Diane Wilkinson

My lovely Mum,
My Best friend,
Valerie.

I was made from young loves dream. Well,
that’s what you told me.
Although naïve to parenthood,
you naturally nurtured me.

In your arms, I often cried, when,
you boiled eggs for tea.
Although you managed to cook and
also comfort me.

You taught me to sing nursery rhymes,
Especially to our older relatives,
Pronouncing every word D.
You, encouraged me to say all the verses

When Barbara came along,
You taught me those small baby chores,
You called me your little helper.

You taught me to share, all my toys.
Especially with my sister, and
when she ventured away from home.
We all really missed her.

Through the years, you encouraged me in everything I did,
Told me not to be like you so fearful and so shy.
To make many friends, and
not ever be ashamed to cry.

You pushed me to read the lesson in church,
as you couldn’t speak to a crowd,
Whatever, little thing I did
you were always so very, very, proud.

You patiently would shop with me,
traipsing around all day.
You came to Leeds, to help clean and make my home,
You did my ironing lots of times, although felt it a chore.
You were my inspiration.

As the years went by, though times had changed,
You were always still my Mum.

You’d taught me how to walk and eat.
And now, we had swapped places.

I helped you,
With those simple things
you were unable to do.
Your gentle, calm and grateful heart,
And blue / grey eyes, still always shone through.

We’d often laughed and would sing,
and pull all funny faces.
You loved our trips out in the car.
Keeping watch
as we went to different places.

But then
One day
I visited you.

With that same beaming smile and twinkling eyes
You told me.

Slow
and straight
You said

‘You are my beauty.
You’re old now.’

However old we are.
You’ll always be.
My mum.
My mate. Valerie.

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18 comments

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I loved reading your poem and it made me think of my lovely mum who died with Alzheimer's disease in 2017. Such a hard time yet such beautiful and tender memories.

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Lost my own mum last year, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s just after my dad died although she had been forgetful for a couple of years, she died only 9 months after him, they’d been married for 66 years. Miss her so much, I often think “I’ll tell my mum that, she’d find it funny “ then realise she’s not here except she is in my heart.

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Hello Ms.Diane my mother is 89 years old and i understand the patient ,education, and most of all love that Gods gives us . Just like you said “Its are turn”

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Such a lovely poem Diane, I was so lucky to have had a mum who lived until she was 106 with no Alzheimer's & had such a fantasic memory, but my husband has now been dianosed with this terrible desease which is so sad especially as he thinks his Mum is still alive & want's to go home to see her, he is 81 yrs old. So so sad.

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What a beautiful way to remember your Mum, Diane.
She will always be with you and that is how it should be.

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So very beautiful, my mum is 84 and got mixed dementia my feelings are overwhelming with love she is sometimes like a child sometimes a bit aggressive but I care for her with so much love ,she makes me laugh she is still so funny with the things she says . But I am dreading the day when she can’t laugh it’s a horrible disease . Your poem is really beautiful x

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Lovely poem Diane. Written from your heart.

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A beautiful poem Diane the words are really soothing and touching thank you love it so reminded me of mum

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Beautiful poem Diane, I hoped it helped you to write it. Your love for your Mum is obvious., as was hers for you.

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Thank you P Baker for your comments yes it was helpful especially after Mum passed away.

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A truly beautiful tribute from Diane not only to her Mum but also to her own life of appreciation, gratitude, and respect . I read the poem with tears of joy and sorrow.

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Thank you Susan for your kind and uplifting comments

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Thank you Rachel you too did very well and thank you have youre support now and then with all of this.

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Thank you Julie. Its not easy to change roles made more challenging with dementia.

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What a Beautiful poem for Mother’s Day. Thank you for sharing this, I was so touched. x

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Thank you K

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A lovely poem of your mum/mate. So many things you write about I did with my mum before developed this dreadful disease.

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Great poem Diane. Such words are inclusive to mothers and daughters all around the world. They say that Alzheimers doesnt really run in families but it definitely seems to do. There is never only one member of the family that gets it. Such an awful disease but you and your dad did Valerie proud.

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