The Cottage by the Sea is lovely today, hot but lovely. There is a wonderful breeze out of the west which is creating small choppy waves on the blue water. It is peaceful here with just the birds chirping and the fans humming. I am delighted to have this quiet time as I try to sort out something of which I know nothing about.
I wonder what makes us “tick.” What causes our brains to suddenly deteriorate to where we function daily, but we have little or no idea what we are doing. How is it someone you know well can look directly at you…. hug you, announce how delighted they are to see you… and within minutes… wonder who you are.
In my musings, I have mentioned working at the local school district for years. The secretaries in any school are a special breed. Most know that industry would benefit them far greater monetarily but choose to stay in the schools because of their love of kids and the thought they are making a difference and they truly are. In the seventies when my kids were in school full-time, I resumed my career by being a substitute in the Hilton School district until a permanent position opened.
In those days, the building secretary often called at six in the morning to fill a position. Such is the woman I am talking about today. She is an attractive, happy woman who was the main office secretary. The conversation on those early mornings often went something like this.
“Marilyn, this is Mariah, can you come in today?”
“I don’t know, I am still sleeping.”
“Get up, I will call you back in ten minutes.”
I would get up, she would patiently call back.
Our little routine became a big joke, as she knew I would cover once I sipped my coffee. We became friends with me having the opportunity to work full-time with her until she retired.
Today she is a resident at Grandville Nursing Facility.
Early this week, one of the gals called me. She told me about Mariah’s situation announcing a visit, asking if I would like to join them on Tuesday, when she and a couple others were planning to take strawberry shortcake. I was delighted, however, even with my friends explanation I was not prepared.
Shortly after our arrival, one could see Mariah dashing down the hall. She looked wonderful having aged just slightly. She was well dressed, a big smile on her face, almost running to greet us obviously excited. Hugging each, she kept proclaiming how great it was we were there. As soon as she hugged the last woman, she turned announcing she was getting a friend. She returned almost instantly with a lady in tow. An aide appeared, quietly escorting the lady somewhere else. No one seemed to mind. In fact, everyone was really happy.
Within minutes, we realized Mariah thinks the building she is now in is the school. She is working hard to keep everything going and will perhaps retire one day soon. Loving the strawberry shortcake, she was her gracious self - except that she looked past me several times to ask where I thought all the cars were going. I looked each time. There were no cars.
Our visit lasted an hour. The visit was filled with laughter as we re-lived stories ending as we walked back to the door, Her room was close by so she went into her room returning with a jacket - obviously going with us. It was about that time that once again an aide gently took her arm announcing they had to go somewhere, signaling us to leave. She went with her without looking back. We left.
Walking to our cars, overwhelming sadness enveloped me. It took me back to my precious grandmother who had dementia or Alzheimer’s, whatever name was attached. I was young at the time. She was old so while it was heart breaking, I accepted her illness.
Today, however, was my first experience with someone who is my peer. Although some years older than those of us visiting, one would not know it. Mariah’s love of life, family, and friends obvious. Happiness still radiates as she talks about each. The difference being, the thoughts are gone or forgotten almost instantly as she focuses on the cars.
Our friend is in good hands. She is happy. My prayer is that the journey will be gentle to her. And yes, I do still wonder --- What happens?
© 2012 Musings by Marilyn - 6/21/12