Babbette the Rabette - An Alzheimer Journey by Sue Scoggins

Babbette, an albino bunny, was the therapy bunny for Family Day  at Jerry’s place.  The appearance of Babbette was the final act of the magician/comedian that came to perform for the residents and their families.  Family Day is a day when all the families of residents and employees come for a day of picnicking and entertainment.

When I arrived, I could see families strolling around their loved ones, finding a table in the dining hall, rocking on the front porch and walking the halls.  It was like open house at the beginning a school year where the child proudly shows off their artwork.  Ivan, sang to his “In the Garden” art.  On this beautiful sunny October day,  Jerry was all dressed up handsomely in his pastel orange golf shirt.  I can’t really tell if he knows me or not.  Nonetheless, we greeted with our squishy bear hug and I chatted with those around us.  Jerry’s eyes are still beautiful, but have question marks in them.  I took his hand and led him down the hall to find a seat.  A DJ was playing oldies music and the staff was serving North Carolina Barbecue.  Truth be told, the whole affair is bitter sweet.  We all put our happy faces on, but I could see little teary eyes here and there when a particular song would bring a bit of nostalgia.  We’re all trying to make the best of a hard situation and love on our loved ones.

The entertainer was a huge success with his jokes.  It was a great relief for the families the be able to laugh and answer trivia questions about Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.  He gave tribute to history with the voice of FDR on Pearl Harbor Day and reminded the residents of their gift as the greatest generation of Americans; who survived the depression and two world wars.  His compassion and sincere performance was truly uplifting.  For the children in the crowd, animal balloons and magic acts hopefully showed that a nursing home/assisted living facility doesn’t have to be a scary place.

Sadly, all the excitement was a bit too much for Jerry.  Even when we placed Babbette in front of him to pet, he couldn’t see her.  We moved Babbette to the right, to left, up and down and he never saw her.  We placed his hand on her.  He never saw her.  He did, however,  have a slight resurge of energy when he saw his room mate’s family.  Their teasing him about dancing prompted him to smile and move his feet.  But after a few minutes I took him on back to his room and laid down next to him.  I think we connected at that point.  He seemed resolved in some sort of way and took a rest.

Families and friends together offer support that is desperately needed.  It was my first family day and hopefully I’ll attend many more.