Recently I had a precious moment with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. It came quite unexpectedly as our phone conversation was in the evening which usually brings sundowners for her which means she can become more easily confused.
But on this evening, the woman who spoke to me was a voice from my past, her voice quiet but firm, yet with a softness for which I had hungered for a long time. My Aunt spoke with me and I sat ready listening with my heart.
At first, I thought that we would just chat, I would make her giggle and then having connected in the only way she has been able, we would say our goodbye and requisite, ‘I love you,’ at the end of the conversation. But instead, I received a gift that we shared.
She told me that she was happy that I could understand her as it had been hard on her for a long time. “Words don’t seem to come to me,” she explained in a resigned voice. “And I can’t say what I want for I don’t know what I want to say. It’s been a long time since I was able to be understood.”
I waited patiently, stunned by her admission ~ for the last few years, we haven’t been able to have this type of conversation because she simply hasn’t been able to share how she’s feeling. Words to even express pain weren’t readily available to her, instead a grimace gave us the inkling that something was wrong.
“It’s like I can see the words, but I can’t reach them. I get confused easily and then everything vanishes. My brain just refuses to work like I want it to anymore. I think that I want to say something and then the thought is gone and I just can’t remember what it was.”
I listened with my heart and felt through the phone her ability at that moment to tell me what was going on with her. She was strengthened by sharing with me and I am ever grateful that we had that time of lucidity together for it had been a long while.
We had a few giggles as elder sisters can when we talk about our younger siblings. We’ve always had that bond and it was strengthened for a few minutes during our conversation. In the end, her sister was getting antsy to talk with me, so she explained that she would give the phone back to ‘the baby’ (aka baby sister) and we giggled.
She thanked me for always talking with her and for being her niece. She told me that she was glad we had a chance to talk and that she knew we may not be able to talk like this again. I promised to continue to try to translate for her when the words didn’t come easily again. I could hear us smiling together as she said, “I love you. I love you with my whole heart. Please remember that,” and I repeated the same back to her.
She handed the phone off to her baby sister and the moment was over. When I hung up the phone, tears continued rolling down my face for I knew, in my heart, I had just been given a precious gift which I would never forget.
There was no pity party invite when she told me what was happening with her and how aware she was at that moment in time that words, thoughts, and understanding escape her. She didn’t ask why. She didn’t make excuses. She only wanted to share with me how she felt and I was there, a ready listener to receive her message. A true moment ~ The Presents of Presence. ♥
And isn’t that what life is all about? Being there to listen and connect with a kind, loving heartlight?