Yesterday at dinner the main topic of conversation was this gentleman's farm and the many animals requiring great expense to feed. When the subject of crops came up, my daughter mentioned caterpillars were eating the Kale in her garden. He was quick to empathize.
This resident of Memory Care told us about milking the cows, slaughtering the pigs, and noodling. (For those of you non-country folks, this would be catching catfish with one's hands.) I asked if he had ever grabbed a snake by accident. He confirmed he had done such a thing twice.
Today this precious man and I visited, laughed, and adamantly defended our choice to eat our cupcakes with a fork. "I don't like sticky fingers," he said in a whisper. The chosen topic was the army, which I know little about, but I was eager to chime in when the aversion to washing dishes was mentioned.
I hadn't planned this visit - it simply happened. These few sacred moments became a highlight of my day. When it was time to leave, I gave him a hug and said, "Tell my dad I came by and ate his cupcake!”
Logan laughed. "Will do!" he said with a grin.
Dad's buddies have become my cherished own. I care about them, look out for them, and look forward to seeing them. Because of today's schedule I didn't make it to Memory Care in time for lunch. I was hoping to catch Dad before his ritual afternoon nap, but arrived to find him stretched out in his chair sound asleep. "I'm sorry I didn't make it to lunch today," I told Logan. "I look forward to eating with you guys."
There's something very special about these folks - we become like family. Patty is a cherished woman I quickly grew to love. Not long after this beautiful friend moved to Memory Care, I was walking my dad to the dining room for lunch. I could not stay. It is interesting to me I can never remember what these other things are that were so necessary.
Moments I have shared with the folks at Memory Care are always remembered.
Dad and I entered the dining room to make our way to the table when Patty spotted us. She waved her hand in the air, "Bring him over here! I will help him!" she called out. Here was a woman whose life had been turned upside down, one adjusting to a new home herself. How did she choose to spend her time? Helping others. These folks are quite capable of sensing someone in need.
What about us? Do we consciously take the time to greet residents as we pass in the hall? Do we notice when someone is cold, can't get a drink because their lid is on sideways, or would welcome a listening ear and friendly smile? It doesn't take much, you know, even with the immense responsibilities we, as caregivers, are already carrying.
One of my daughters was reminiscing the other day about her grandparents' house. "That was my Happy Place," she said. "I made so many wonderful memories there." She is the only grandchild who lives local now and has made a conscious effort to have dinner with her Pop (and his friends) every Wednesday evening. "I've come to realize," she said, "Memory Care is now my Happy Place."
These folks are truly a treasure to talk to - all of them.
Admittedly, they aren't the easiest to converse with. Even though my new friend is among the higher functioning residents and quite conversational, his loudest voice is a whisper, which makes understanding him a committed effort. Others only speak with their eyes. Jane says it best with the touch of her hands - the softest I've ever known. When she reaches out to pat your arm, you'll quickly understand her sentiments of love and compassion.
One resident is a man with few words - but when he does speak it's worth a listen. The other day I asked if he was having a good day. "I'm as good as a sharecropper in a hailstorm.," he replied. Logan turned to me, "I don't think that's very good!" he whispered. There's a treasure box of beautiful moments to be found with these folks. May we look beyond the challenges in communicating and be accepting of what they have to offer.
Embrace the opportunity to transform someone's day -
chances are you will find it's your own!!
#StoneBenches #TheyHaveAName #EndAlz #MemoryCare #LunchWithTheGuys #AlzFamilies