I had the opportunity, years ago, to take care of one of my teachers in the nursing home of my home town, St. James, MO. She was THAT teacher for me and our friendship continued through my adult life until her passing. I was sad about the teacher I had lost to Alzheimer’s Disease, but I learned so much more about her life than I had ever known before. We had a ritual we started every day at 2pm. We would drink hot tea together and eat dark chocolate. It wasn’t long before I ran out of stories I knew from when I was in high school (she was only half listening to me talk anyway) and I realized I wanted to know more about her younger years. Her children brought in her college year book. We started looking through it together. We never got through more than a few pages before she would remember a story. Oh, the things I learned! Her nick name was Carrots because of her orange hair. My tiny friend played the trombone! I had no idea! She had so many stories to tell about being in the band and her college friends. I heard stories about the parties and dances and what she wore, how she felt, who she didn’t like and who she loved.
In the first few years we would attend high school events together. It was a small town, much like Port St. Joe, so before, during, and after each event all her students would make sure to stop by and say hi. When she saw someone approach, she would elbow me and ask me who it was. I would whisper it in her ear and with just the mention of their name she would say “oh yeah” and sometimes she would ask about a sibling or their parents. She didn’t know who they were most of the time but she enjoyed being the center of attention! Later on, it became more confusing and difficult for her to go out into the community so the community started coming to visit her. Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease. It’s devastating for all involved. But, it’s also beautiful and meaningful, and someone with this disease has so much left to give. There is so much value to their stories. When she could no longer talk I told her life stories back to her. Her smile would light up a room.
If you have any questions we would love to help. Call us at 229-8244 or you can email me at scain@CrossSeniorCare.com, or, even better, stop by for a visit. We are taking care of your teachers too. Remember, treat everyone with importance and always be kind.