Tuesday, August 9, 2011


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It is 6:30 pm. I am getting ready to leave work, dead tired. I hear Joan's voice at the door.

"This is it...right here. This is where we're supposed to be."

I swivel around on my stool from the computer where I'm feverishly trying to finish the mountain of rehab documentation that never goes away, and in wheels Joan with Monty in tow. I will stop heaven and earth for those two.

Something amazing happens when the 3 of us are together.

Joan came to our nursing facility when her dementia and other medical conditions became too much for Monty to care for her at home. Monty drives 45 minutes one-way every evening to have dinner with Joan. I don't want to say too much about them because "Mont" has given permission for me to interview him about 'dedication'.

Joan rarely remembers my name, but she will call out to me from 30 feet away. Sometimes I am Mary; other times, Carol. The one thing that is consistent is that she associates me with Mont because I go to the dining room almost every night to tell them goodbye.

So, my plans immediately change. I will not leave work at 6:30. I put Dean Martin in the stereo and sit down. Joan is very communicative tonight; much of the sentence structure doesn't allow for understanding a train of thought, but her affect and her enthusiasm are what is important to enjoy. Monty does such a great job of allowing Joan to just "be." 

Joan lets me clip and clean her nails. I'm the only one, Mont says, who she will allow. We listen to Dean sing "That's Amore."

As they turn to leave from our brief visit, Joan begins to speak in full sentences, reflecting accurate information about her sisters, their age differences, and her early adult life in Germany as a singer for Armed Forces Network.

Then she talks about when she and Monty met. She looks up at Mont and says, "We will be together forever. Really, forever."


Monty and I look at each other, pleasantly shocked!  I lean down to Joan and look her in the eye.

"Joan, you are just wonderful!"

Her face lights up with an expression I really can't describe. What she says next, with a sincere and emotional tone, touches me deeply.

"I love you."

This conversation lasts only five minutes. Its impact continues.

Isn't life better when we are aware and grateful for small breakthroughs!

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