Alzheimer’s Unit – Hidden Beauty Within

singing in the rain

Alzheimer’s is one of the most terrible diseases known to man. It slowly strips away every part of a person’s being. This monster turns self-sufficient, successful people into incapable bodies wandering around lost, seemingly without purpose. It comes in and removes a lifetime of wonderful memories, while ripping away loved ones in it’s path.

However, as horrible as this disease is, there is still beauty and life in those who are plagued with it. For a while, I had the opportunity to work in a local Alzheimer’s unit. I’ve always called it the best “non-job” I’ve ever had. I was paid to work there, but my heart and soul were so in love with the residents that it never felt like a job to me. Although, it was 12 years ago I still remember those amazing people as if it was yesterday. Some were quirky, others romantic and some bitter. But, here are the two that stole my heart the most.

Meet Flo:

Flo had the most bubbly personality I had ever witnessed in my life. From the moment the sun came up, she was skipping (yes skipping) out of her room and making her way down the hallway. She always had a smile on her face that was contagious to everyone she passed by and she loved to sing. The residents always requested us to put on the 1952 movie “Singin’ in the Rain”. We watched that movie almost every day and each time the same scenario was played out. They would all be relaxing on the sofas enjoying the movie, chatting back and forth with each other.

Then, came the highlight of the movie. The song performance of “Singin’ in the Rain”. Like clockwork, Flo would jump up off the couch. There in the middle of the room she would sing along with the song, while showing off her moves with twirling and dancing. She was great and the residents loved her, and so did I. That was Flo. I like to think that she’s a precious angel now singing in the rain, skipping around and bringing smiles to the faces of all those who see her. I can still hear her singing.

Meet Mr. Stafford:

From practically my first day of work, I was Mr. Stafford’s late wife. I assume this must have been because in some way I resembled her. But whatever the cause, I was flattered by this 85 year old gentleman. There were many times while running around the hallways, I would be told that “Mr. Stafford is asking for his wife.” I would finish up and hurry over to him. Most of the time he didn’t need anything. He simply wanted to talk. So, that’s what we did. We talked.

Soon night would come and I would walk him to his room and wait outside the door while he changed into his pajamas. Once he was done and already lying down, I would come in the room and tuck him in so he would be nice and warm for bed. Then, as it was his nightly routine, he would ask me if I was coming to bed too. He always looked so disappointed that I was not already lying beside him. To comfort him, I would tell him that I had to go finish the laundry and would be right back. He accepted that and within minutes of my leaving the room he would be asleep.

That is, until about 3am. Almost nightly, he would wake up and try to escape through the security door that led outside. We quickly learned his routine, so I would station myself near the hallway each night to wait for him. Before long, there he would be hurriedly walking down the hallway headed straight for the door. I would quickly jump up and cautiously intercept him. With a gentle pull and a little sweet talk he would forget about his escape plan and walk with me over to ‘his’ chair. Once settled, I would give him a warm glass of milk, which he loved. Before even reaching the bottom of the glass, he would be drifting off to sleep. I would walk him back to his room, tuck him in again and we’d call it a night. To this day, I feel honoured that I had the opportunity to be Mr. Stafford’s stand-in wife, until he could be reunited once again with his real wife – the undeniable love of his life.

There were many others in the unit, each with their own stories, traits and qualities. They too remain in my memory. But, the two amazing people mentioned above made a special imprint within my heart, where they will live on for many years to come.

Lesson learned: These two wonderful people showed me that no matter what, there are two things that go with you always: The unique, beautiful personality that defines you and timeless, unconditional love.

{Recommended Reading: Not Forgotten is a compassionate blog written by a woman’s son, as he watches her travel down the path of Alzheimer’s.}

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3 Responses to Alzheimer’s Unit – Hidden Beauty Within

  1. pardenme says:

    Oh, you made me cry! Alzheimer’s may take the memories, but it can’t touch the love. Beautiful, just beautiful.

    Like

  2. mewhoami says:

    Thank you very much for your comment and your kind words. Those amazing people showed me that genuine love lasts a lifetime, regardless of circumstances.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Finding Purpose | Me - Who am I?

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