What wonderful women they are.
In the company of such joy, who wouldn’t feel rested and revitalized?
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By Marilyn Raichle
Alzheimer's Reading Room
When I find myself stressed from work—beset by too many deadlines, too many emails all pressing for an immediate response—I head to Supported Living to visit my adopted mothers.
The moment I arrive time shifts. Stress disappears. There is only the moment and I surrender to each restful, rewarding minute.
Their small community is gathering in the dining room, ready for lunch. I am greeted with smiles.
I greet them each by name and the smiles get bigger.
“Ciao, Bella!” I call to Flora and give her a quick kiss on the forehead.
“You are my joy,” she says. “Bless you.’
“You are so beautiful,” I reply.
I begin giving them gentle neck massages—always asking their permission.
“Heaven has arrived,” beams Jane.
“Ah, you’re good. Are you a professional?” asks Gloria as she settles contentedly into her chair.
“You have good hands,” says Sue. “Thank you.”
I greet Joyce and her constant companion, Gus, a little stuffed animal. “Woof,” I say. “Gus is looking very happy today.” Joyce agrees, pleased.
I give Phyllis a head hug. In all the years I have known her, I have never heard her voice in conversation—instead coos and murmurs. But when we sing, her voice is loud and clear (she was a former conductor of a small orchestra) and she sways to the music and laughs.
Then I visit Evelyn, who is approaching her 104th birthday and still completely engaged and animated with life.
And around the table I go, their happiness increased by the smiles on each other’s faces,
What wonderful women they are. In the company of such joy, who wouldn’t feel rested and revitalized?
After an hour I am recharged and calm—ready for the head winds of a busy life and thankful for the safe harbor of Supported Living.
Marilyn Raichle writes a blog, The Art of Alzheimer’s— How Mother Forgot Nearly Everything and Began to Paint. Marilyn is currently curating The Artist Within, an art exhibition featuring 50 artworks by 42 individuals, ages 60-101, living with dementia and to debut in Seattle in January of 2016. She also works as an arts management consultant in the Greater Seattle area.
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