It has been about two years since my grandparents on my moms side passed away. But, they were actually gone long before that day thanks to alzheimer’sdisease, and its ability torob the brain of memories of loved ones and times since passed.
Even though mygrandparents didn’t know who I was because of this disease, I still tried to visit them at least twice a month. Even though I would hear the same stories over and over, I hoped on some level they would remember me and know that I loved them.
This went on for many years, and from time to time, they did remember, but other times, I don’t even think they knew their own names. But, something I always noticed when I visited the alzheimer’s ward of the care facility, was that I was usually the only one there with these30-40 alzheimer’s patients.
Time may not allow for family members to come often and I also wonder if they say to themselves, “Oh, mom won’t remember anyway, we will just go next week.” But, what ever the reason, these people rarely got any company. When I went, I could see the smile in their faces when I brought the kids with me. Was it the joy of youth they remember or do they remember they have kids and they are mistaking my kids for their kids?
Many times, when I was there by myself, I would have people come up to me and hug me as if they remembered me. I’ve had this happen in stores also, but there I back up, being very stand offish and ask, “Do I know you?”But, not today. I let them hug me and be who they need me to be for that brief moment in time. I know I have brought them joy. They probably won’t remember this in 30 minutes, but for that moment I was their Billy, Ron, Jack or Sam. Who ever they thought I was, I became, and we had some great conversations about the old times. I just would sit back and smile as I listened to the stories of my life that I didn’tremember.
It was two years ago January since my grandfather passed away and I haven’t been back to the home since that day. But, tomorrow my family and I are visiting a retirement home in Beaverton and we are planning to sing, talk and be family for a day, and hopefully, bring a brief moment of joy as we become who ever they need at that moment in time.
If you have never been to a retirement community, I suggest you stop off and volunteer your time. These people have lived very long lives and have given so much to society… it is the least we can do to give back. You can’t give them their mind back, but you may be able to give them brief remembrances of joy that have been lost due to this horrible, debilitating disease known as alzheimer’s.
Todd Clark (Principal Broker)