Monday, September 8, 2008

Visits to the Land of Dementia #2


His tight jaw is an echo of the more angular good looks of his youth. Irving now speaks little, smiles seldom and dozes in the land of dementia most of the time.

He has a stubborn resistance to lifting his feet when we push him forward in his wheelchair. He shows us just how strong he must have been in his prime.

Irving will sometimes play kickball with us for awhile. But, like anytime we play with a ball in our circle of elders, he suddenly decides to pick up the ball and hug it on his lap. The other residents complain until I run and get another ball for us to kick. I let Irving keep hold of that ball, satisfying some unknown.

Last week was the Olympics in China. At the Reserve we had our own Olympic games. We played bean bag toss, disc toss, horseshoes, basketball, and kickball. And I made gold medals for everyone – some awarded for kickball skills, others for being a “Champion Music Lover”, or “All Around Champion.” One woman, who tenaciously maintains her possession of her favorite chair in the common room was named “Champion Chair Holder.” And Irving was “Champion Ball Holder.”

As with each medal, I announce, “And the Champion Ball Holder is . . . Irving!” Everyone cheers and claps. I place the ribbon and yellow construction paper medal around his neck. As I do, Irving gets a huge smile on his face, and looks me straight in the eye.

At that moment it is as though he let me see into his inner self. I see him, not as his physically diminished self, but as he had been – a virile young man. And new words to describe Irving came to me – “the strong silent type.”

by Terra

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