Courage to Connect

I visited my elderly client today. He is super shy at 85. Every time I get to the facility I find him alone in his room with the door close. I took him out for a ride which was delightful even with all the rain. We stopped at McDonalds and he had a strawberry shake. He said he hadn’t drank one in decades. He talked about drive-in movies and shakes and other super sweet memories.

In one of our many conversations, as he struggles with memory lapses, I asked him if he was always this shy? He said he was. Then he looked at me and asked if I was always this courageous. I laughed.

“Courageous? At what?”

“At speaking out. At going up to people and talking to strangers? I bet you have always been this way.”

I admitted that as a child I was super shy. In my teens I would talk to everyone but something happened after I had my two sons in my twenties. My light went out. I allowed my partner and those around me to dictate my worth.

I told him it isn’t about courage. It’s about living fully. It’s about connections. It’s about overcoming worth issues and showing up in the presence of another.

Something touched him. His eyes watered and I stopped talking and hugged him.

Then I grabbed him by the arm and took him to another man’s room who is a sweetheart. This man is just beyond yummy. They eat meals together but both are shy and won’t “hang out.” I left them in Walt’s room. Whether he left right after or not is not important. He stayed long enough. And that to him is courageous.

Darlings…Be vulnerable. Be brave. Be whatever label you place on yourself but get out there and join another. We are here for that!

Laughter Heals

I visit my 85 year old. He’s having lunch with three other men. I grab a chair and sit next to him and a sweet gentleman name Walter.

My client asks, “Why are you here to see me? I know you’ve told me but I can’t remember!”

I make something up about being part of a welcoming committee making sure they are well taken care of at the facility. (This way he doesn’t start to question why he needs a guardian).

My client: “Does a woman like you have a husband?”

Walter breaks his silence, “uh oh!”

I ask, “A woman like me?”

My client: “A woman galavanting to see elderly men. What kind of man lets his wife do this?” He is smiling. I am laughing.

“My husband is at home with our kid….”

He interrupts and says, “If you were my wife I wouldn’t let you out of my sight!”

Walter says, “And that’s why she’s not with you!”

I laugh loudly. So loud that the place goes quiet. All those falling asleep over their plates are woken up. The table starts to rattle with laughter.

Laughter fills the crevices. My client starts to truly show me his sense of humor. I tell him that he’s my favorite. He smiles and says, “I bet you tell everyone that!”

Walter looks at me and says, “I hope one day I can become one of your favorites.” He doesn’t know it but today he has been bumped up to the top of the list. And we just met.

Folks…go make laughter. Go share your joy. It’s freaking contagious. I had me a ball sitting at that table with four lovely elderly men who don’t speak to each other. They gifted me with generosity and I amped up their reason for needing a nap when I left. They used all their reserved energy to laugh. Pure bliss!

Hands of Grace

I have an epiphany every single time I enter a facility to visit an elderly person. I hear stories that no one cares to hear. I hear regrets within their lack of clarity. I hear the silence in between words. I see the distance in what was and what is now in their lives. I make up stories in my head, adding to the ones they can share in a few words through whispers. I hear the struggle waiting for death to arrive and the fear that comes with it as well. There is gratitude in walking into a place and then returning to my life. How can I complain when I have health, love and joy? Who am I to even shed a tear over the pettiness of a hard day? Life certainly gets a jolt of healthy perspective. On days that I am down, feeling out of luck, I make sure to go see one of my elderly clients. Those are the days I need their wisdom and the divine clarity that I am truly living a charming life.

Do yourself a favor, adjust your perspective and gratitude by visiting a homeless shelter, taking flowers to an assistant living facility, or visiting hospice. Sit with a stranger and learn something new. Nothing like a true reality check to make you aware. Your life is richer because of those folks who teach you the meaning of what you are and have. Be love. Be light. Be everything but unsatisfied. We are here on borrowed time, making our way through this journey. We aren’t alone. We are holding each other up…even strangers that pass for two minutes. We receive everything we give…so make it count, darlings! Make it count for all those who truly need your love and light in their lives.

What a blessing it is to be here. To live in these times of mass conscious shifting. What a gift to see the changes by being the change yourself. It’s truly magical…because it requires faith and grace. I love you mucho!

Pick Living

I walked into a facility this afternoon. The cutest elderly lady was walking the hallway. Forty five minutes later, after visiting my client, she was still walking them.

I stopped. She stopped. “You are adorable. My name is Millie.”

She extended her hand out, “I’m Betty.” I drew her close and gave her a hug. She smelled delicate.

“I think it’s wonderful you walk so much and without any assistance.”

“At this age if I don’t everything gets stiff!” She giggled.

She didn’t say her age. She must be in her 80’s.

“What’s the best part of being this age?” I don’t know why I asked.

She smiled and without skipping a beat, “I’ve lived! Long. It’s been a life. It’s been full. It’s been a privilege. I don’t have to rush anywhere. I’m already there.”

I saw no signs of dementia. She was clear. Strong. Alert. I caught myself exhaling a deep pause. My arms got goosebumps which is a sign of truth and a divine aha.

I hugged her again. She touched my left cheek. I thanked her for the hall pass and class. She smiled. Her eyes twinkled. She kept walking.

I am grateful for living. This long as well. I’ve never been this old. I will never be this young again. It’s a privilege. I’m trying not to rush. Signs keep showing up about slowing down. I have chosen this life. Not settling for anything that makes me cringe. I’m here…Collecting wisdom from halls and angels.

Love is Everlasting

An 85 y/o client shared the story of the first time he saw his wife over sixty-five years ago today. She transitioned a few years ago. He can’t remember how long it’s been.

“The first time I ever saw her…(he took a deep pause)…she had me.” His eyes seemed to be recollecting the vision of her. “She was the most heavenly sight I had seen after returning from Korea.”

We stayed in silence for a moment while he continued staring at the wall in front of him as if he was seeing the memories pass by. He gasped…again and then returned to meet my eyes next to him.

“What did you notice first?” I asked him. He smiled. I waited with anticipation.

“Her smile. It lit me up like I had never been lit before!”

I gasped. It was my turn to take it all in. How do you move from such a statement? Then he broke the silence.

“On her last day on earth she had the same look. That morning she called for me four times. She had fallen and I ran to her. I called the paramedics. They came and she was losing her life. There she was slowly disappearing in front of me. I knew it. We got to the hospital and her eyes on the stretcher let me know that it was the last time she would look at me that way….” Tears formed in his eyes like two giant puddles of blue water.

I asked him, “How do you come back from that moment?”

He quickly said, “You never do. Even with me forgetting things the memory of that day lives with me. I wish that was one thing I could forget.”

I am always gifted lessons when I visit my folks. Always! It’s in the smallest touch or conversations. It’s in the authentic intimate moments of asking and their willingness to share life with me.

I asked one more curious question, “Did you get to kiss her goodbye?” Tears began falling from my eyes.

He looked at me and answered, “I did. And her lips are still on mine.” He passed his fingers over his mouth.

Love is everlasting. If you don’t have this with your mate….find a way to get there. No relationship is perfect but there are moments that will be cherished in your later years. Make them special. Make them count. May your lover’s kisses be imprinted on your lips forever.

Crossing Over

Yesterday I visited my sweet 96 year old who is barely there. She has been transitioning for weeks. She is all bones. When I got to her room with the med tech she was wrapped in several blankets. I spoke loudly to let her know I was there. I asked how she was feeling and she said she was waiting to go see the Good Lord. So I said loudly, “Go darling! It’s time. Go! You can dance and play with Him!”

Her roommate who is much younger, but has progressive dementia yells, “I wanna go. I want to go where she’s going!”

“No, sweetheart, it’s not your time. You can’t go where she’s going at this time. You go on a later date!”

My client started on her loop, “Don’t Rush me. I’m going as fast as I can. I have rivers to cross. I can’t get on the raft….” I touched her arm to calm her state of confusion.

Her roommate started yelling, “I wanna go where she’s going too. I know how to swim.”

The med tech looks at me with a scorn look and says, “See what you started?” We both smiled.

I heard someone come into her room in a wheelchair and the elderly patient was ready to also go on the field trip to wherever my client was going!

When you give consent and wishes to loved ones to go be with the Good Lord please be sure no one else is ready to join them. Seems there are rivers to cross and not enough room on the raft.

You Are Fire

I admit yesterday was a challenging day: emotionally and spiritually. Some personal matters got to me in a way that surprised me. Later, before coming home from work, I visited a sweet elderly client who will be 85 next week.

He is in the middle stages of dementia, in between recognizing that he’s slipping and shifting, and accepting that his mind will be completely gone in no time. Watching him struggle is not an easy feast.

He sat trying to tell me about his deceased wife. He got frustrated and in that moment his tears swelled. Mine began to let go. All I could do was sit holding his hands in mine. I told him it was alright. But the truth is that it’s not alright. And he knew it. It sucks. It’s pure yuckiness.

So we sat there. In silence. Crying. Wiping each other’s tears. Then eventually voices returned to the room. I broke the silence with sarcastic humor and he laughed.

We cannot deny our truths. I remembered at that moment how I felt when I lost my memories and I had to go home with a man I didn’t know after my accident. My brain injury was literally a wake up call. I remember staring at pictures of us and the anger and frustration of not recognizing the moments, or the person. It was excruciating and debilitating.

My client held the picture of his wedding day. He couldn’t understand the white dress or where it was. He recognized his gorgeous wife but he didn’t know what was happening. I took the photograph and traced her dress and told him they were the loveliest couple ever. He smiled. He agreed. He doesn’t remember her name anymore. This is the part that hits him hard.

This was the end of an emotional day. I got him up from his recliner and hugged him tightly. By the time I was leaving he was on to something else. The moments came and went. I believe the visit was truly cathartic for me. I needed the release…and so did he.

This morning I woke clear and free of the inner critic scolding me. The chaos was gone. A gust of wind pushed outside and woke all of us up. Our daughter slept over 12 hours. We all slept great.

Each day I am thankful for long nights that turn into mornings, friends that turn into amazing family members, dreams that turn into reality, challenges that turn into blessings, and likes that surprisingly turn into love in the most unexpected manner.

It’s a great day to have a magical one. Embrace all the emotions and allow for the visitations to come and go. You are a freaking fire. I love you.