It was time to say good-bye.
The activation students had been with us two days a week for several months and on their last day, we took them out to lunch. These two young men had grown, matured and learned so much over the weeks. As we chatted together, my supervisor asked them, "What was the best experience you had in all the time you were with us?"
As I thought about it, I wondered what they would say. Each had planned and run a special event, and they'd been spectacular. They'd gone on a trip, done one-on-one visits, taken residents for walks--so many opportunities to connect. What would they say?
"Breakfast with Betty."
Betty spends her entire day in a wheelchair. She's younger than most of our elders, as early-onset Alzheimer's changed her life in her prime. She's only in her seventies now, and she's lived with us for quite some time. Her naturally curly hair is still blonde, and her gorgeous blue eyes follow your every move. Most times her look is pensive, but when she occasionally smiles, it's a beautiful gift. Betty can no longer talk and hasn't been able to for several years.
But she can communicate. As our student sat with her each morning he was there and spooned porridge, toast, and eggs into her mouth, she communicated volumes and poured into his life. She told him how the value of a life doesn't depend on ability or what a person can contribute. She taught him that communication is more than words. And she taught him that love can grow in unusual places.
This self-assured, mature young man learned to look forward to their times together each morning. Their placement included two, two-week blocks where they came in every day, and after one of these, he had to be away the next week. When he returned, he rushed into the dining room, looking for Betty and saying, "Do you think she missed me?"
Our elders, even the most impaired among them, can give us gifts that will change our lives. As care partners, we need to watch for them and embrace them.
A hug, a smile or...
breakfast with Betty.
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Care Partner Wednesday--Breakfast With Betty