Let me assure you, they kept me smiling the entire meal. It's worth noting the employee taking the picture is new - which likely sparked this trademark expression of suspicion. After all, she did have my phone!
I arrived as lunch was being served to find Dad, head down and eyes closed. I was delighted to discover one kiss on the cheek brought him to life as a smile crossed his face. "Did you give him a kiss?" Rex excitedly exclaimed. I assured him I had, indeed, given my dad a kiss.
"Well, where's mine?" he asked. I promptly delivered his straight to his forehead as he graced me with a smile. Their new friend, a handsome gentleman who moved to Memory Care last week, anxiously looked at me with twinkling eyes. "Would you like one too?" I asked. Of course, he did.
Once all were appropriately greeted, I asked if I might sit with them.
"Well, I don't know," our new friend honestly answered. "Well, I know!" Rex convincingly replied. "You know?" Dad asked his buddy. I took my seat. One might think my dad would not want to share my attention - but the folks at Memory Care are caring, giving, sharing folks. Since the day I tried to correct Dad for taking his buddy's cookie and Rex defiantly put his hand up to inform me, "We will work it out," I have not interfered in their arrangement.
Last week Rex ate their new friend's brownie after finishing his own. A replacement was promptly brought to the newest resident. "Could I have that brownie right there?" Rex sweetly requested. "No, this one is mine," he was told. My daughter began to feed her Pop bites as she lifted his napkin to reveal the brownie. "Well you little sneak!" Rex proclaimed. "It's a good thing you're cute!"
Rex helped himself today to some of Dad's cantaloupe before I got our friend a second helping. You can see in the picture, Dad's plate is pushed over to Rex as an offer to finish it. A few bites were obligingly taken as a token of thanks. After all, Dad ate Rex's special corner piece of birthday cake last December while my head was turned, so I figure we still have a long ways to go before they're even. Dad recently got the new straw cup you see in the picture, which became a communal cup until all the guys received their own.
Don't think for a minute these guys aren't smart.
I think often the fact that there is a living, breathing, thinking human being inside is overlooked. They understand much more than they can communicate, feel much more than they articulate, and are certainly still experiencing the world around them. Rex is hard of hearing, their new friend can only speak in a whisper, and Dad's ability to articulate his thoughts in words is now severely diminished. Couple this with the challenged cognitive function Alzheimer's disease produces and it's no wonder communication is difficult.
Yet they're smiling, they're laughing, and immensely enjoying the camaraderie of lunch with each other and this strangely familiar woman who invited herself to their table. We had such a delightful lunch, I wanted to snap a picture to remember this particular day. I showed it to the guys after it was taken. "That's me!" Rex proclaimed. Dad pointed to the image he had seen as we admired our reflections in our spoons before lunch and exclaimed, "That's me!"
Normally, I never ask if they know who I am but they referred to me as "ornery" and "crazy" during the meal. It seemed like a safe bet one of these two endearing adjectives or a simple "you" would be the response. "And who's this?" I asked, pointing to the one who had doled out kisses, waited on the table with the utmost attention, and wiped Dad's nose more than once during the meal. They studied the photo quizzically. "Well, darn if I know!" Rex exclaimed. Dad looked at his buddy and shrugged his shoulders.
One thing we all know for certain: I love these guys!
#StoneBenches #TheyHaveAName #EndAlz #MemoryCare #Dad #Rex