Thursday, December 8, 2011

Stories to Tell

The annual forced viewing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” occurred a few days ago in our nest, but don’t commence with the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth if you missed the first pass oh beaky ones.  It was just on TV, so it doesn’t really count. There WILL BE many more as the official viewings don’t begin until the no-commercials DVD comes out of storage.  Being the fair person that I am however, I will let you choose whether the viewing will be in color or black and white, although I have to tell ‘ya, seeing George and Mary Baily fake-colorized tends to freak me out a bit.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when as teenagers George and Mary are walking home after the dance and he picks up the rock to hurl it at the old abandoned Granville house.  Mary stops him, “Oh no, don’t.  I love that old house. It’s full of romance that old place…I’d like to live in it.”  George thinks she’s crazy for even suggesting such a thing and says he wouldn’t live in it even as a ghost.  He has written it off as a “has-been”, ready for the wrecking ball.  Not Mary.  She can still see it for what it was and what it could still be.

We moved my dad into his new home on Monday.  An “Alzheimer’s and Memory Care” facility.  It’s a really nice place and his caregivers are just that – caring; finally a place where people “get” him.  My sister and I are still taking shifts going to his new home to stay with him as he (and we) make the transition, taking needed supplies, making the needed arrangements for his medical care.  Being there so much this week has afforded me a chance to get to know a few of his new “dorm” mates.

There is “Miss Peggy”.  Lovely little old lady who is still very mobile and whose job it is to “help” push other wheelchair bound patients to the dining room.  She has also apparently appointed herself the “welcome” mom to all incoming newbies and proceeded to converse with me about how she loves this place and has “Jesus in her heart” and how if my dad wants a snack in-between meals, just ask Jason, who apparently also has Jesus in his heart.  She just had a birthday, but could not remember how old she turned.  We had this conversation twice.  We will probably have it again today.

Then there is Stan.  He roams the halls not talking much but pantomiming something about a key to me.  Stan would not fit most folks idea of Alzheimer’s and the stereotype of it being only an “Oldtimers” disease.  Stan cannot possibly be more than maybe 63.  From what I can gather, Stan fought in Vietnam and attended LSU. His wife has decorated his room and comes to visit him daily.  I caught them smooching in the living room yesterday and went the other way so they could have some privacy.

The one that really stands out to me is “Deloris”.  The very first hour we were there Monday, Miss Deloris was walking the hallways stopping to look out the front window for the school bus.  Not sure if she was looking for herself or maybe waiting for her children to get home. Who knows?  What I do know for sure is that Miss Deloris likes to dance.  Volunteers were there yesterday to provide entertainment, which basically meant a karaoke machine and singing to pre-taped Christmas music.  The residents loved it.  One of the aides had Miss Deloris swinging around and laughing.  I will never forget the pure, sweet, joyful glee on that darling little lady’s face as she danced.

Being around my dad’s new neighbors this week has really opened my eyes.  My perspective has changed and I have learned that those who suffer from this terrible affliction should not be viewed as “Georges” but rather seen through Mary’s eyes.  They are not just old houses ready for the wrecking ball.  They are mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, educators and defenders.  They were someones child once.  Someone loves them and they love someone. They are you.  They are me.  We need to look at them as they were and, just like Mary, what they could still be.  They all have stories to tell if we will just take the time to listen.

I'm about to go back in a few minutes.  Maybe Miss Peggy will tell me about Jesus again.  I sure hope so.

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