Honoring Special People in My Life
A Pink Piece of Felt Fabric
When do you know that it will be the last time a loved one remembers your name, remembers who you are, or remembers the history you have shared? When is the first time you realize you have become a stranger?
We sometimes talk about being “in the moment” - but when a loved one has Alzheimer’s, there is no other way to be except ‘in the moment” and those moments change continuously, and as quick as an eyeblink. Looking back or looking forward is irrelevant. It is only the present moment that has any meaning, and even that moment will be forgotten.
When the familiar becomes the unknown, when a lovely tree-filled view is now a frightening monster on the hill, when the linear timeline of memory becomes a wavy, looping road where the lane directions change without warning, then you know it's time to find a new way to connect, if only for the moment.
Two days ago, on a visit with my friend who has been moving through the stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, I took a gift. It was wrapped in a soft baby blanket and tucked in a tote bag. Last year, when I gave her a scarf I had knitted, she stroked it and said, “It’s so soft, like a kittie.” So on this visit, when she unfolded the baby blanket, there was a soft, furry stuffed kittie which she immediately “connected with” and said, "It's soft." She smiled and effortlessly re-wrapped the kittie in its blanket, then unwrapped it and stroked its soft fur.
At the end of our visit, my husband and I drove away from our friend’s familiar home for the last time. We were both heartbroken, knowing that early the next morning, traveling with her family in a small convoy of vehicles and a large U-Haul truck, our friend, her husband, and daughter would be moving far away.
After arriving at their destination at the end of the next day, I got a text from my friend’s daughter who said the soft kittie had sat on her Mom’s lap throughout the long and arduous trip. Kittie had provided a calming connection as a “comfort animal” to my dear friend!
At one point during that last visit, she turned the kittie toward us and exclaimed, “Look! The nose is a heart!” I hadn’t noticed this detail, but she could see it immediately when she held the little stuffed animal up to her face. In that moment of clarity and realization that a small pink piece of felt material was actually a heart-shaped nose, my friend Alice was “present” and we were “in the moment” together, smiling, and enjoying her delight. I had bought kittie six or seven years ago, and it had been stored in a bag of stuffed animals in the back of a closet, waiting to be given away. I recognized God's divine nudging to find that kittie, and immediately knew, that all along, it had been meant for Alice.
It has been two days since our visit but it may as well be a million light years ago, since my friend won’t have any recollection of the visit or where her gift came from. Yet, my hope and prayer is that when she holds Kittie on her lap or against her face, all feelings of fearfulness will subside, and will be replaced with gentle, calming feelings of love and peace, and maybe even some inklings of joy when she sees that little pink nose. I pray it will be so.
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© Copyright Shirley Myers