Lynn is a regular at our visits to a local retirement home. For over a year now, our encounters with her are peppered with exactly the same repeated questions. Her confinement in “Memory Care” is due to Alzheimer’s.
The schedule is simple: we gather residents for an hour after lunch on Tuesdays. Some lapse in and out of naps. Not Lynn. She is engaged with the music and the stories read from the Bible. After almost every song, she exclaims, “Oh, that was just heavenly!”
Upon reflection, I realize that the questions she asks reveal an important aspect of her circumstances, the progression of her disease …and what matters most in the end. I’m so blessed to have noticed. Stupid me, it took so long.
During the course of the hour meeting, she asks the same questions repeatedly. Some of the other residents who are less advanced in their respective declines, notice Lynn’s “interruptions” and indicate their consternation. Mostly everyone is tolerant.
Caregivers are quietly apologetic, simply smiling. We try to be polite and answer Lynn without expending too much time on her curiosity and concerns. It’s a precarious balance between patiently (and authentically) answering her and moving the meeting forward.
Alzheimer’s steadily encroaches on its victims’ awareness, and in Lynn’s case she protects the things that matter most to her with amazingly consistent effort. Over short periods of time, minutes really, Lynn experiences a brand new awareness, and her concern for very these beautiful sentiments resurfaces. Then naturally, so also do the questions re-occur to her. And so she asks …
Sir, are you married? How long?
Honey, have you kissed your wife today?
Is she here with you today? Is she musical? Do you sing to her too?
You’re so fortunate. When will you come again?
Thank you Lord, for Lynn’s lesson. Amazing.
Lynn buried two husbands. She knows what she’s talking about.
It’s killing me that for a time, under my breath, I became tired of Lynn’s questions. I’m ashamed to realize that right in front of me a woman’s life has been reduced to the essential simplest thing. Love matters that much.