I had an opportunity to spend a couple of hours with some pretty special people recently. Jean, Mary, Neil, Joyce and Wilma are all residents at a care facility for people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Here is my story…
While playing a fiercely competitive card game called War, or as Joyce called it, Battle, a gal walked past our table and sat down on the sofa. She was hunched over and holding her stomach, I thought maybe she didn’t feel well or was disabled. I excused myself and walked over to her, maybe she’d like to play cards with us.
Wilma told me wonderful stories about her husband Angelo; what an amazing husband he was. Oh, how they enjoyed playing Bridge with all of their friends. She reminded me several times, “We’re Bridge players!” I learned that she had been married a very long time to her husband Angelo and that they had several children, she couldn’t remember exactly how many, but she loved family, and she loved her family.
Wilma talked about being positive and staying away from negative people because like she said, “Who needs that!”
She wanted to know if I was married, how many children I had and where I worked. Wilma was very interested to know if I was happy! I shared my story and showed her pictures, oh how she loved seeing my pictures.
And then we’d start the entire conversation all over again! For about 30 minutes we shared her story and my story over and over again. And with each re-start I was taken in by her smile, her enthusiasm and her genuine interest in every word I had to say.
Sure, some of the details changed with each rendition. For example she had been married a very long time, and then she had been married about 12 years and another time she and Angelo never married; they were happy and didn’t feel the need to! HA!
That’s what Alzheimer’s and Dementia does to people; it scrambles the information in their memories and it deletes memories all together.
Wilma was a hoot! She had a wonderful sense of humor, a great outlook on life and was so appreciative of the time I spent talking with her.
The power of your presence…
I went into this experience thinking about what I was giving these sweet people by spending time with them. But as I walked away I realized what they had given me.
Never underestimate the power of a caring heart. The sacrifice of your time may reap larger rewards than you can imagine.
Oh…I almost forgot! Remember I said Wilma was hunched over and holding her stomach? When I sat down with her I offered her a cup of water. She thanked me and told me she had a cup but wasn’t thirsty. Then she reached into the front of her pants, pulled out a little plastic water cup and said, “I’ve got my cup, they charge you for everything you know, nothing’s for free!” And then she put her cup back into the front of her pants! 🙂