Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Angels among us!

I visited Gary many times this weekend.  Friday night.  Saturday morning.  Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning.  This is becoming a habit.  Not a bad one.

The events of the weekend at "The Happy Place" gave me cause for pause. Saturday's visit started with me driving up the street toward the building and seeing the Care Manager, Annie the dog and two of the very mobile residents, Debbie and Marnie, walking down the sidewalk toward the retail center on the corner.  I parked my SUV and walked to join them.  They seemed happy to see me and the two residents appeared to recognize me.  (Guess that makes me a "regular"!)  We walked and talked in the morning sun.  It was nice walking with them.  Annie was busy sniffing everything and barking at anything bigger than her.  The two ladies were holding hands and I was just enjoying being with loving people.

After returning, I thought it was nice that Debbie brought me a glass of water!  I said hello to Gary and proceeded to trim his ever-growing fingernails.  Afterward, I wheeled him back to the main room to get in position for lunch.  I watched the Care Manager reading the case files for the day while she held hands with one of the other residents who was having a hard time coping with....well, something. SHe just held her hand and read.  I really don't think she realized how sweet that gesture actually was.  There was no agenda, no rules, just love and calm.

Later, one of the other caregivers came over to tell me how she had taken Gary to Zumba class one day.  While he can no longer walk she encouraged him to work his arms and enjoy the music.  He seemed to understand our conversation.  We spent some time with this activity blanket and then I fed him a spectacular lunch.

Shortly thereafter I realized I was hungry and visited the local sandwich shop for a grilled cheese.  I eat at the counter so its quicker and the waitresses don't seem to care that I usually don't want to talk. Today, as I paid for my meal, I told the cashier that the grilled cheese was becoming a bad habit.  For whatever reason, I felt it important to share with her that I was a regular here on Saturday because my husband was in Memory Care at Sunrise.  She seemed interested and I shared my new "Blog cards" with her.  I ordered business cards that give people the address to this blog.  I am determined that it will help others.

I left and went to the movies.   Going by myself is the only way I get to go, so I suck it up and laugh or cry by myself.  I'm glad I like me.  It would be more difficult if I didn't.  :)

I headed back to the unit as I had an hour before my massage appointment.  Gary was napping so I sat on the sofa and watched part of a movie with Debbie and Marilyn.  It was a Disney movie and they (and I) were disappointed when it was time to go to the tables for dinner. I am helping them train Annie the dog to take a nap on the sofa rather than be put outside during meals.  Three meals she has done far, so good.  I started to feed Gary and Debbie but had to leave. 

The massage was delightful and much needed.  Even caregiving when your loved one is in Memory Care is tiring and stressful.  I'm not the one changing him and cleaning him.  It was easy letting go of that part of FTD.

I went back this morning and got there as the angels had a down moment and were sitting at the table.  All the residents were gone with family members, at the ballgame, sleeping or just sitting quietly watching the football game on television.  The caregivers looked guilty for sitting there.  I embraced two of them and encouraged them to rest their wings. 

I trimmed Gary's moustache and encouraged him to use his activity blanket.  Today he was interested in the ribbons. 

The Care Manager was playing music as she rubbed lotion on the hands of the residents who were there.  In between songs, someone said something about summertime.  I started singing Summertime from "Porgy and Bess" and Marilyn and Wilma joined in singing.  It was delightful. Marilyn always had a great appreciation for the old, sing-able songs and always reminds me that her Mom taught them to her when they were "at home".  I never quite know if she knows her Mom is long gone but it doesn't matter as the memories are obviously pleasant.

As the angels were serving lunch, a particularly upbeat song was playing and one of them started dancing around the tables and making the residents smile.  The joy they provide to their residents is remarkable.  At one point, I must have been frowning in my thoughts.  One of the residents from across the room motioned to me to smile.  Remember the one who had a tendency to be "mean"?  It was her!  Said yelled across the room "SMILE.  You have such a pretty smile."  I smiled the rest of my visit....just for her.

It is amazing that I have become so enamored with these people.  I never knew how important and environment is, not only for the one suffering personally with Dementia but also for the families of the ones suffering.

I thank the Good Lord that I found Gary's "Happy Place".  God helped me make the decision to move Gary from home to the Unit at just the right time.  Only he knows what tomorrow will bring. 

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