Sunday, April 30, 2017

My Sweet Friend....

 I have been sitting here starring at a blank template, unsure of what to say but yet filled with so many thoughts. I watch the text cursor blink, waiting for some input to make it solid, to fill the space, to add meaning to the emptiness that it lives within.  Then my mind drifts into thoughts about how our life could be viewed the same way.  This world is so empty compared to what is waiting for us, and we search for some meaning, a purpose - something that makes us feel solid and complete. Some people find what makes them solid, and in so doing they start filling the pages of their lives with words, pictures, experiences, stories, memories....things that will keep them feeling full and satisfied, despite living in an empty world where pain and heartache threaten to drain our spirit. In living their life story they are not only filling the pages of their life story but also adding a few chapters to somebody else's story. I have found this happens, sometimes when we are completely unaware of it. I don't think we will always know the chapters we write in somebody else's life.  Sometimes we write them when we are declining in health or facing some hardship that seems insurmountable. 

I have been helping out at a memory care facility and yesterday I received word that one of the ladies that I would walk with and work with one-on-one, had departed this earth. When she would come in on days that I was there, we would walk around the facility and 'shop'...she would comment on the nice door decorations of the residents who live there...they have different little rooms in this place and we would walk around and shop in these different areas. We weren't really shopping but that is what seemed to bring some joy to Mrs. Dorothy, so that is what we did.  We would collect odd pillows or pictures or magazines and purchase them 'on credit' and take them back to the house. Mind you, we never left the facility.  Part of working with people who have some kind of memory impairment is joining them where they are, while also having no knowledge of where that may be. I think a big part of it is making a connection. Some days we would walk outside, only to Mrs. Dorothy we were walking on the farm and helping with the animals.  Or working in the fields and harvesting crops.  Some days we were at the hospital and she was taking care of people and talking about how much she enjoyed helping others. As she was losing her memories I felt like I was saving them for her. She enjoyed visits from Sadie!

One day we were walking outside and she was talking about potato farming and she stopped and looked at me and told me that I was a good person.  I told her thank you and asked her how she knew that and she told me because I care and I am a good friend and I have a good heart.  I asked her how she could know those things about me and she simply responded, 'Because he told me so.'  I asked who 'he' was and she was back to talking about all the things she could make using potatoes.  For those few moments though, she was there, and what she was telling me was what I needed to hear.  I felt like God himself was talking to me through these interactions that I would have with amazing people at this memory care facility.  When we walked she would always feel the need to hold on to me and would repeat over and over, please don't leave me. I am not one that really likes to be touched, but for Mrs. Dorothy, I had to get over what I didn't like because it was what she needed.

Mrs. Dorothy certainly blessed my life, even as hers was slipping away. She has written a few chapters in my life's story, while sharing her life's story with me.  She pioneered the way for me into memory care and what that really looks like. I know the only thing certain in life is death, but I also don't think it is something we were ever meant to have to deal with. I am grateful for the time that I had with her, even though I feel like it was way too short. I will always remember her - somehow in the midst of my struggles she reminded me that I am a good person, that I have a good heart, and that the way I care for others is a good thing.  When I think about her I can't help but think about those positive affirmations that she left me with.  I hear her voice clear as day saying it to me now. I am grateful for the pictures I have to reflect back on but the true beauty lies in the way she touched my soul. I know she is at peace. I should find peace in that knowledge but being somebody who feels things so deeply, this is very sad for me.

The write up in the paper 

She wrote her own obituary - it was published on my birthday. 

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