Except for my daily visit to Jim Fudge early this morning, I stayed home all day before Margaret, Irene, and I went to a Christmas party at the condo community where we lived before moving to Paradise Village. While I was at the party at Steve's house, I thought about the same party several years ago when Jim was a younger "old man..." before Alzheimer's.
When I visited Jim this morning, he was sitting asleep at his place in the dining room of Parkview when I got there, and when I woke him, he looked at me and said “I hoped you would come today.” I said to him, “Of course, I’ve come to see you because you and I are special, close friends. He smiled and I was reminded that somewhere in that old head of his was all the goodness and hope for good things for people around him that I recognized soon after he and Irene moved to their apartment in our old neighborhood. There are several things about his old life that I try to remember to talk with him about when I see him every day. At the top of the list of things is to tell him that I know that he is a good man. He is experiencing changes that surely must scare him. He is sinking deeper and deeper into that fog of Alzheimer's disease. He always recognizes me, and I consider that a great gift because he is forgetting so much of his former life. He has known me only since I was beginning to be an old man...almost twenty years. The memory of anyone whom he has known since that person was young, like his beautiful, wonderful wife Irene, he sometimes fails to recognize because she is no longer the young woman who married him more than sixty years ago. He always knows me because I have always been an old man to him.
Today the weather was warmer than usual outside so I pushed him around though Heritage Park rather than inside the halls of Parkview. He liked that. The world is fresh and new to him every day, especially in the park. He doesn’t recognize the people or the pets we see there, but he is cheerful and likes saying good morning to everyone.
We sat today in the morning sun, and I was especially glad and thankful to have the blessing of this good person as a friend.