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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

I Remember, George

Sharing a sweet memory here to help those who may be dealing with someone close to them who has Alzheimer's or dementia. 

I used to take care of some horses for a family who had a grandmother that lived with them who had this. 

Often I would stop in to discuss the horses, etc. with the owner and would stop to talk briefly with her grandmother. 

She started to on occasion recognize me when she saw me and would say hello. 

That began our friendship. 

I started to stop by daily just to give her someone new to see and help her not feel so lonely. It was only for a few minutes, but I came to enjoy our brief visits. 

She was funny at times and on rare occasions was lucid enough to share a story from her youth.

Her room had a picture window that looked over the pasture and the horses often hung out right outside her window. 

She loved the horses and always asked me their names, which she of course would never remember. 

Every time I visited she would ask me my name and would get upset with herself because she never remembered it.

One time she started to cry as she confessed her fear of losing her memory and the embarrassment of never remembering my name.

She couldn't remember her husband or children or where she used to live and work.

I just told her, it didn't bother me and that if she couldn't remember my name to just call me George! 

We laughed at the funniness of it and ironically, that name she could remember. So from then on she just called me George.

Her granddaughter couldn't find anyone to take care of her grandmother. She often would scream, fight and get upset with people, so she asked me to on the times she and her family needed a break and go out if I would stay with her since she seemed comfortable with me.

How could I resist?

I would sit and talk with her for a short while about the horses or whatever. She would then look out the window for a brief moment, turn back and say, "Oh! When did you get here?" and the conversation would start all over again. 

I didn't mind. To her it was a brand new conversation.

Some days she acted out in anger or fear and who wouldn't if you couldn't remember people or things or think that news story you just saw was happening to you?

It's terrifying to see them screaming the house is on fire because they saw on the news about a house fire. 

She struggled to know who I was at times, but I would just repeat, I'm George, the horse lady and she would get a glimmer of recognition and calm down a bit. 

It got harder towards the end when the family was forced for their safety's sake to put her in a home. 

The nurses said I ended up being the last person she recognized and the staff also called me George, which was so funny.

At her funeral I was not allowed to attend - other family members mistakenly thought I was after her money, which I found odd, because I thought the woman had no money - that is why she was staying with her granddaughter. 

I treasured her stories and laughter and the few memories she could share.

So I sent a huge purple flower display - her favorite color with just the words, "From George".

Only the granddaughter and her family knew who they were from and we giggled as the other stuck up family members were trying to figure out who George was. They were so afraid this "George" would sue them for her money.

I could care less.

I tell you all of this and share this memory with you to offer those who deal with this horrible disease that attacks the ones we love so dear, because the lesson is to cherish those fleeting moments of lucidity that do come and then go in a blink of an eye.

It's not all bad, even though the bad days seem to outnumber the good. Just take what little good you can find.

Your parents tolerated your toddler temper tantrums and irrational fears and now the tables have turned and you are the one dealing with their tantrums and irrational fears. 

Let their past guidance and patience with you encourage you to do the same with them. 

The parent has now become the child and it's hard on us to switch roles and see them become so frail and dependent on us when we are still needing "them" to parent us.

That is when we must turn to God the Father for his parental guidance, strength and courage that we can find nowhere else. 

He and He alone will help us take care of those who have spent their lives taking care of us and who desperately need us to remember for them.

Find the little joys in this. 

Come up with outrageous ways to remember names. 
Play games with them. 
Be calm when they are not. 
Be the rock they were for you. 

Enjoy repeating yourself over and over, because it won't be long before they will be free from the shackles of this life and it's cruelty. 

Then you will give anything to have the opportunity to repeat yourself one more time.

Take if from me, George, the memories will only remember the sweet times. ❤️

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