Thank You

Author: Mel Livatino

Through all the latter days
of her dementia
the only words she knew
by heart were “Thank you”
and “I love you.”
They were forever on her lips.

She thanked me
a dozen times a day.
Whether I said something nice
or gave her a task to do
or said “Let’s watch TV”
or “Get in the car, let’s go,”
she simply said “Thank you”
or “I love you.”

When she had forgotten
nearly everything,
family, past, home, my name,
she sat in a chair each day
and watched me work
at writing words
to eke out meaning
and maybe beauty

and I would turn
to see her face
become a smile
only because I looked at her
and then without a word
she’d say, “Thank you”
or “I love you.”

Mel Livatino’s essays have appeared in The Sewanee Review, Writing on the Edge, River Teeth, Under the Sun and other publications. Four of his pieces have been named Notable Essays of the Year in Robert Atwan’s Best American Essays annual (2005, 2010, 2011, 2012). He is at work on two books: The Little Red Guide to Publishing Creative Nonfiction and God: An Inquiry, the latter about the existence and nature of God and evil. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.