Friday, February 17, 2012

I love surprises..... this one came in snazzy suspenders!

Yesterday at Willow Valley we had a wonderful surprise.  Willard was sitting up straight and tall in his chair, dressed in white short-sleeved button down shirt, black pants, and snazzy suspenders.  He was awake and perky, teeth in place, and grinning from ear to ear!  

Earlier in the day Willard's comfy mattress had been replaced with a new one to prevent bed sores. Willard communicated to his nurses that he wasn't sure Chester would be able to jump up on this new bed. This IS a situation to be considered! So,  knowing it was Chester day, he decided to sit in his chair and wait for his 4-legged friend. When we rounded the corner & walked into the familiar room, Chester immediately looked at the bed, then to the chair, then smiled and said, "NO WAY!" (Ok, he didn't actually SAY No Way!  but he was thinkin' it, he was...) When Willared saw his buddy, he waved his arms and opened them wide.

What a difference from the first time we met. Way back when, in the summer months,  when Chester first trotted in to Willard's life, the room was dimly lit, and a man lay quietly, curled in bed.  Dory even had to wake him. Chester, without hesitating climbed up and nestled in. Willard made happy noises and stroked the soft fur. Thus our friendship began.

Today the room was bright with light, Willard was bright, and just felt... bright!  While Chester and Willard visited, Dory and I noticed how engaged and alert Willard was. ....And so we began to ask him questions about the framed mementos on the wall.  One by one we took them down.

The first one was a black and white aerial photo of homes,  out-buildings, and evenly lined farmland. He pointed.  "Home.  Greenhouse."  "Is this your family farm?" we asked him.   "Yes. My Father's. Home."  He then places his finger on some land adjacent to the large famhouse, "Road!"  Willard said.   "There's a road there now?" we asked.  He shook his head yes, seemingly not-too-happy about the progress that now divided his family's land.

Another picture, in sepia tones, of children in front of a brick school house.  He pointed to the little boy on the top step and said, "Me!"  We oohed and ahhed over what a handsome little guy stood in the back row!  Willard moved his finger to an older girl in the front row, adorned with blond curly pig tails and puffed sleeves, "My Sister!" he said.  "What's her name?" I asked.  "Margaret,"  Willard answered.  Three times he answered. Three times because I couldn't understand.  He is a very patient man. :-)

Next we pulled his certificate of honor off the wall.  "Purple Heart," he spoke, carefully touching  the words on this framed treasure.   "Were you in the war?" Dory asked.  Our brave veteran nodded ,Yes,  ...... It was clear he was thinking, remembering.  We waited, and sat quietly.

After placing the memories back in their proper places, Willard continued his visit with Chester.  I think Chester took at least a kazillion treats from these large, gentle hands.

When it was time to go, I gave Willard's hand a squeeze, while he patted Chester's head with the other.  "We will see you soon," I said.

Willard waved good-bye.

As we walked down the hallway towards the elevator, I went over and over the visit in my mind 'n heart.  There we were, on the Alzheimer's floor, the floor where memories are hard to come by.  We sat with a dear man, a man who remembered Chester's name and knew we were visiting today.  A man who spoke of his memories from long ago, of his sister, and his family farm, and his service to his country.

Who woulda thought today would be FILLED with so many wonderful memories .... & miracles :-)

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