Made a Connection - an Alzheimer Journey

Look at him.  He looks totally normal!  Baby blues and a great smile! We made a connection today.  Ever so brief...he was with me.

When I arrived for my visit, the residents were eating in the dining room.  I leaned around the corner and saw how well he was eating.  Not wanting  to distract him,  I stayed outside and took occasional sneak peeks.  He looked so good.  Looked alert.  It smelled like spaghetti.  It was fried fish.  Once he was finished, Ro, motioned me to come in.  I walked over and stroked his shoulder.  He didn’t know what was happening, but once he saw that it was me, he rose to his feet.

We walked down to his room to do “the do” before leaving. We wouldn’t want to go anywhere without accomplishing that first.  Trust me!  Don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I’ve got to say this.  I don’t take him to the potty that often. Not that I mind, at all, but  the staff usually does it.  This time, I knew they were busy feeding other patients, so I decided to do it myself.  Once I got him situated on the “throne” he looked up at me, with puppy dog eyes, and said, “You’re beautiful.”  I was, to say the least, taken back.  What is it about the act of  pottying that ignites such an emotion?  Could it be that it is so personal,  intimate and makes one so vulnerable?  I wonder if he says that to all the CNA’s.  Hmmm.

Today, I decided to do something different.  I needed a few tubes of paint so we went to our local art store.  For reasons I won’t say, I’m safe to say that the employees know us.    I called ahead so they would have the supplies ready and waiting for me.  There was a stool conveniently waiting at the counter for Jerry to sit on while I paid.  When we left, we went next door to the local  bakery where he could get a piece of chocolate cream pie.  We struggled to get him seated but he finally got his bottom all the way onto the seat and his legs under the table.   Today, I wanted to sit across from Jerry, so our eyes occasionally could meet. That usually increases our  chances of a connection.   At first, he couldn’t manipulate his fork or spoon. People were staring.  So what.  Once we got the pie on the spoon, he had no problem getting it to his mouth.  Then, all of a sudden, he began to cry.  He looked at me and said, “I can’t do it anymore.”  (you must understand that was my interpretation of his broken words.)  I reached across the table, took his hand, and said, “It’s ok.  You are doing great!  You are doing great!  That seemed to calm him down, then he “went away.”

It was an “oh, so brief”  connection.  Fleeting but beautiful.

After our pie, it was time to head “home”.  The residents were having their  monthly birthday party that is filled with piano playing razzmatazz music.   “Reentry” goes much more smoothly went there is an uplifting event about to happen.  Sure enough, the troops were being gathered at the door just in time for Jerry to join them.  He never knew I was gone.