I was delivering snacks to the diabetics when I encountered her again. Her husband was gone. She calls me over in a whisper and grabs my hand. She starts whispering about how long it's been since she's seen me and asked how I was. I play along. She asks, very worried, where her husband is and if he'll return. She kept making references about things that happened 50 years ago. How her husband was in the war and how lucky he is to be alive. Indeed. Ahh.. dementia. Dementia is not my friend. It runs in the family; my grandmother had it pretty bad, but more on that later. So I let her talk (I don't really have a choice, she has my hand) and she's very worried. She says she keeps saying her prayers. She can't sleep at night. So I asked her faith (knowing it was a rhetorical question) and she didn't hear me. I said, "Are you Catholic?". "Oh yes," she says. "Where is your rosary?" I asked. "I don't know, it's around here somewhere," distraught. I told her when I have problems sleeping sometimes, I say my prayers and that helps. She smiled.
So I told her I had to go, but I would return. I asked the nurse if it was okay I gave her a rosary (per her safety) and she didn't have a problem with it. I finished my snacks, went to the in-house chapel, grabbed one (they're just cheap plastic jobies) and went back to her. She was so relieved. You should have seen the look of peace and relief when I gave it to her.
I'd have done it for any one, or any faith. When we're lost and confused, it helps to return to what guides us, what comforts us, what keeps us sane. I'm just glad I was there at the right time and the right place to offer someone solace.
It reminded me of a time (though unrelated) I had a return of a patient; I ran into her husband on the sidewalk as I was walking into work. We made small talk. I asked how she was, he told me (it wasn't good), I sighed. Then he says, matter-of-factly, "But she's my wife (as he shrugs), I love her" so he was going to keep persevering. Even when you could tell he was so physically & emotionally tired and his nerves were wrought to the bone.
Days like this make me thankful I work at the hospital so I can see so many different sides of people. Connect with them. That's what human's are all about, aren't we? The more we stay strangers, the colder the world gets, the more wars start (as an example). If we don't talk to each other, listen to each other and try to connect and understand each other.. then what's the point? Why are we here? Well, I won't start on that soap box, but you see what I'm saying.
Tonight made me think of my late maternal grandmother. Her dementia started slow, progressed quickly to a severe Alzheimer's. She didn't even recognize you at the end. Kept referencing things that happened 60 years back. But when she went, my aunt was with her, and she kept singing hymns right to the end. This was of great peace to me. I hope my French-Canadian friend has the same gentle passing.