This afternoon I went to visit a sweet elderly man who is in hospice care. The last few times I’ve visited him he has been really down and quiet. He mumbled incoherently and I could only sit there and hold his hand.
Today he was in his wheelchair in the hallway of the facility. He was clean shaven and perky.
He doesn’t know me but he recognizes me. He knows that he knows me.
I went to hug him and he smiled and said, “I’ve been waiting for you. Glad I’m on my break!”
Today he returned to when he had his bodyshop fixing cars eons ago. We shared details about Old Dodge Chargers and engines. I told him I miss the days when I could take apart a Holley (carburador). We shared about different parts: manifolds, plugs, and gaskets. His eyes sparkled. We spoke about engine sizes, torque, and drag racing. He lit up, sat up straighter and squeezed my hand in delight. Then he said he had been working on expanding his shop to bring in other types of business with the “old 50 engines!”
Right there I felt life moving through us both, connecting to stories of
Past and Present. His dementia allowed us to enter a time machine and return to a place of comfort, times when I also enjoyed taking things apart, and forgetting the reality that he’s sick. The reality that I will get a call soon and be informed that he has transition. But, Today we were just two friends meeting each other in a place of gratitude.
My dear soul held my hand softly. He asked me to “behave” and not let anyone show me how to change a spark plug unless he was present. I promised.
Conversations don’t need corrections. They just need connections. They need laughter and touches. They need to be felt. Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients have good days and bad ones. Allowing them to speak their illusions (which are their present truth) gives them power. I have no problem entertaining their words. I often fly with fairies and ride unicorns. Who am I to judge?
Today was a great visit. Today I witnessed my sweet friend through a small window of hope and love. He’s teaching me so much in those moments of joy that don’t appear often these days. And I am forever blessed. Today he didn’t just hold my hands. He held my heart tightly in them.
Live this moment, darlings! Make the most wonderful memories. One day these moments will appear and they should be full of joy and little regrets. They should tell sweet stories of a life lived with a pure open heart.