For many people, caring for their ageing parents is something they thought they might do at some point, but the scope and intensity of that caring have surprised them. I used to take my Dad out for lunch during a time when his dementia had become pronounced. When I would go to get our lunch, I would always say, “I’ll be right back.” One day, I realized that I said that a lot. Then I thought that many people must say that a lot. And so came this song.


I'll Be Right Back

I'd take my father out for lunch
From the place where he was livin'
I think he liked to get away
From the life that he'd been given

The whole place made no sense to him
He couldn't recognize a soul
But at least he knew I was his son
So away to lunch we'd go

This was our Saturday routine
At the old course he used to play
I’d orient him to the scene
We'd watch the colourful display

Every time was like the first for him
Though he had lived just blocks away
Then I’d go to order our grilled cheese
And I would always say


I'll be right back, I'd say to him
So he wouldn't worry
I'll be right back, I'd say again
And then I'd always hurry

In case maybe he'd get confused
And wander away
And when I got back I would be relieved
That he had calmly stayed

I’d take him back and to his room
And make sure he was settled in
He’d ask if we’d be leaving soon
With no recall of where he’d been

Then he’d ask when he was going home
My answer was always the same
And I could never quite decide
To take credit or blame


My drive back home took quite a while
And my mind would often wander
Back to when I was just a child
And I depended on my father

So strong and so implacable
So steady in his ways
And if I had to wait for him
He would always say

I'll be right back, he’d say to me
So I wouldn't worry
I'll be right back, he'd say again
And then he'd always hurry

In case maybe I’d start to cry
And think I was alone
And when he got back I would be relieved
And he would take us home

I guess that’s just the way of it
For the moments we aren’t near
Every time we walk away
There’s that nagging little fear

Across the generations
Across the bridge of time
Like some old incantation
Or a children’s nursery rhyme


© Gary Poole 2017