It was one of those times. Linda was experiencing inexplicable distress. I couldn’t reach inside her world and calm her restlessness.
Our neighbors and friends, Dale and Norma Sessions, stopped by as they do almost daily. Dale is in middle stage Alzheimer’s disease.
He has lost most of his once extensive vocabulary. He lives entirely in the present moment and his retention fades almost instantly.
Suddenly Dale went to Linda’s bedside. He touched her on the shoulder and softly said, “You’re good! Yes, you’re good.”
She clasped his outstretched finger and held on tightly!
Though Linda’s distress continued, Norma and I sensed the preciousness of the moment.
Here a person with significant cognitive degeneration had empathy for another with severe impairment. Dale reached for Linda and spoke a word of affirmation, “You’re good!”
I don’t know what either Dale or Linda were thinking. But in that fleeting moment, there was a tender connection, a simple affirmation, an experience of solidarity, a shared compassion.
Dale’s embedded pastoral sensitivities and practices remain. He greets almost everyone with a smile and “Hey! Hey! Hey!” and “You’re good!”
Yes, people with dementia have gifts! They are more than objects of ministry! They minister!