Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Kindnesses and Coincidences.

Yesterday, I received a phone call from an old friend of our family's, Nancy.  She attended the same church we did and I grew up with her son and daughter in Sunday School.  Although I didn't care for many of the adults at that church, I did like her, and I especially liked Nancy's mother - a cozy, sweet woman who seemed like the epitome of grandmother-ness and who taught my Sunday school class in my teenage years.  She and I had many quiet and private chats about life, growing up, and religion, and she was very understanding when I told her I no longer believed in Christian Science.  In fact, I considered her a mentor and was especially honored to be trusted to house-sit for her when she was away, as well as taking care of her little dog, Happy. 

I hadn't spoken to Nancy for years and was surprised and touched when she told me the reason for her call.  She had heard through the Church grapevine that Dad might still appreciate some letters and she was calling to see if that were true, since she was in the process of writing to a few other people in need of contact and wanted to include Dad.  It quickly came out that her mother, my mentor, was also being gently eclipsed by the effects of dementia and I commiserated with her.   Apparently, she still recognizes Nancy, although not very many other people, and seems to be quietly and slowly slipping away.  What was even more coincidental was the fact that she apparently lives in an Adult Family Home practically across the street from my father's! We could have been waving to each other on our visits, if only we had known.  It did make me sad that such a vibrant, compassionate, sparky woman should have to suffer such a difficult fate.

After talking a bit about Dad's progression and status and decided that while letters may not have been appropriate, post cards would give him a picture to look at.   I thanked her for her kindness in thinking of Dad and spending what I'm sure was valuable time doing such a nice thing.  She is about twenty-five years older than me, and, of course, has known me since childhood, but for the space of that phone call, we were just two women, caring for our parent with dementia, exchanging our experiences.  It was nice to catch up and hear that voice from the past.  We also made arrangements for me to visit her mother some time, and she was quick to remind me that I probably wouldn't be recognized, forgetting that I had just told her I worked with people with dementia and their families all the time.  It sounded as if she had prior experience with people wanting to visit, then being disappointed at not being remembered!

As I've written before, I'm not sure what Dad thinks about mail and the cards I, and others, send his way.  When I visited him today to say hi (and drop off zucchini bread), I saw birthday cards from his sisters, set up on a side table.  Does it matter anymore, I wonder?  Is it only to soothe our own feelings that we send these missives, or does the staff read them to Dad, and does he take some kind of enjoyment from them?  We may never know.  I think I do like knowing, however, that the number of people thinking of Dad has grown by one, and that she will keep him in her good thoughts in the same way she keeps her own parent.  Nobody wants to be forgotten, and perhaps that is why it is good to still send messages and cards, in hopes that some part of our loved one will know they haven't been.

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