Willard turned 94 years old on June 1st. Chester and I were deeee-lighted to celebrate this day with our dear friend. We were his only visitors.... sigh.... How glad we were to be there :-)
Chester brought a 5x7 photo of himself as a gift for his buddy. A handsome beach picture! Willard smiled big, so big in fact that his top teeth began to fall out :-) . (You just have to keep a sense of humor during these moments ~ It didn't bother Willard in the least, he just gently gave them a push back in place! I just love this man!)
Willard held the framed photo gently, a treasure, examining it closely. Then, he made those happy sounds that make me smile deep in my heart. I placed the photo on the window ledge where Willard could easily see it.
After presents, we did what we usually do. I sat on the chair at Willard's bedside. Chester climbed onto the bed with his friend. And the two snuggled. Chester's breathing became steady and his eyes heavy. He fell asleep enjoying gentle ear massages, neck rubs, and paw pats from the birthday boy.
After quite some time Willard reached out and touched MY arm. "Thank you for the picture," he said. I was so startled....stunned might be a better word ~~ that he spoke so clearly and made the connection that the picture was our gift to him on his birthday. Another Alzheimer's miracle moment...... tears spilled over my cheeks.
"You are so very welcome." I replied. "We love you, Willard."
My heart is kind of achy this week......Chester and I attended a memorial service for Janet, a woman we visited regularly on the Alzheimer's floor. She LOVED dogs and had a sweet connection with Chester. The staff on her floor were OVERJOYED when we came, as Janet's disease made her way-difficult to get along with and not fun to be with (if you catch my drift)....that is, except when Chester pranced through her doorway. When Chester was on site, Janet became a different person, probably her real self ~~~~ full of spunk, but so tender, kind, and thoughtful.
The first time we visited Janet, she told the staff that she would indeed like a visit from THE DOG. We walked in her room, moved near her bedside, and accidentally, I gave Chester the wrong command. The way I patted the bed told him to JUMP ON, rather than PAWS UP. (Oopsie Daisy) Chester looked at me, grinned, and gently jumped up on Janet's bed. I knew that he knew that I knew he was totally taking advantage of my mistake. It delighted them both to no-end. And that was the beginning. I did command Chester off the bed, as Janet told me, with a sparkle in her eye, "that dogs were not allowed on the bed at her home!" But, I could tell she appreciated the fact that he broke the rules :-) .
Whenever we visited, Chester would come along side Janet's bed on the right hand side, put his big ole front paws up on her bedspread and inch-in as close as he could. She would talk to him in such a sweet voice, stroke his big ole paws and soft ears, feed him treats, and ask me the same questions each time we came....and tell me about her dogs. Her Boxers. And whenever we left, she would thank us over and over for visiting.
On our last visit, Janet was on oxygen and had pneumonia. I knew, I think we all knew, it was the last time we would see each other on earth. I took her hand, and told her I loved her and so enjoyed our visits. She told me she hated being sick. In less than a week she had passed from earth to heaven.
I wanted to attend Janet's service. To meet her children and grandchildren and tell them how much we loved their Mom and Grandma. And... well I wanted to know Janet. The real Janet. As a few shared about her life, .....well....She was just as I had imagined her. :-) Full of life and love and spunk. She was a woman who spoke her mind clearly, with a feisty twinkle in her eye. She was a no-nonsense school teacher who was loved deeply by her students. And she loved dogs. Her Boxers.
Our lives are all the richer because of our Thursdays with Janet.
Today on one of our regular KPETS visits, Chester's quick response and obedience probably saved his life. When we walked into the room, my buddy sniffed under a table and I noticed a blue capsule/pill. I commanded him "Leave It" and he did so immediately. I then notified the staff who removed the medicine from the area. I was so thankful my eyes were on Chester, and he obeyed without hesitation. A great reminder for us all to make sure our pups are confident in this command, and to stay alert on our visits. I really never thought this would happen ~~ and it did. I'm thankful for the training KPETS gives ~~ so valuable for the safety of our pets as we serve others.