Have you seen this person?
I smile, and know that the rest of my night at work has to go ok, because somehow, my heart has been touched by an angel.I glance up from my medication cart just in time to see Mary coming down the hall with a frantic look on her face. Often, this kind of look from a resident means either A) they are in dire need of a bathroom NOW or B)something is going to cause me to have a long night of paperwork. Mary is holding a framed picture of herself that appears to be a few decades old. "Have you seen this person?" she innocently asks. "I can't find her anywhere." ...I stop what I am doing at my med cart, look up at her and see the confusion on her face. The look on her face tells me she is quite puzzled that she can not find the person in the picture anywhere.
The young woman in the picture is smiling, curly brown hair flowing down her back as she smiles back at the camera . The lady standing in front of me has white hair that was set at the "beauty parlor" and looks a lot like the young lady in the picture except for a few more wrinkles, and her smile has faded to a confused expression.
This is the real picture of a woman who is suffering from alzheimers. She can not recognize herself any longer. Sometimes I think we all lose a little bit of ourselves through the years. We are always trying to "find our place in the world" ...searching for who we are, what we want to be and where we need to go in our lives. As quickly as we find out what makes us happy, that fleeting moment tends to escape us and we are back to square one.
I've come to the realization that I am never quite comfortable with "me" ... there is always something that I am hoping to change. I am just another face in the crowd. Looking back through old pictures, I have found that my life has changed. I can no longer look at myself and see the person staring back at me in the picture. I've changed, I've grown to be a much different person than I was as a child. Maybe this is how Mary feels. "Have you seen this person?" ... maybe she is just wondering where the time has gone. How fast life moves- and how far we come in wisdom.
"Yes, Mary... I have seen this person. She has aged gracefully and is loved by many." ... as Mary looks down at the picture, there is a tear that forms at the corner of her eye. "I was a catch, wasn't I?" she says, as she places the picture frame in the basket of her walker. I smile, and know that the rest of my night at work has to go ok, because somehow, my heart has been touched by an angel.
jaelpn has '4+ nursing, 12 years medical field' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Assisted living- dementia care'. From 'Somewhere, IL'; 30 Years Old; Joined Dec '05; Posts: 47; Likes: 241.3Jul 26, '11 by No Stars In My EyesWhat a perfect and loving reply you made to your patient; it acknowledged so much in a simple observation. I would like saying 'thank-you'' for such warm wisdom; I can't explain it exactly, but it was almost like you said it to me.2Jul 26, '11 by cherryames1949Who among us haven't asked the same question? Your answer was perfect for Mary. Thank you for sharing such a touching story. I am always hoping that I am able to say the "right thing" as it can make such a difference to the patient. You were definitely touched by an angel.5Jul 27, '11 by brieckerThank you so much for the story, I too have had such moments with "my people". I have often prayed for the wisdom to know the right thing to say when those times come. Remembering that just because this is a job for me, doesn't mean that this particular moment that they are experiencing is not extremely important to them. Was that clear? I feel like the reactions of the staff are too often lacking and that they should look beyond themselves to see how important their roles are in their residents lives. Sometimes our smallest actions have the biggest impact on them. This facility is often their last home and they should be treated with the respect that they deserve. They had lives, loved ones, and passions before coming to us- be good to them because it may be us one day.