Monday, February 22, 2010

What Remains

Working and volunteering with elders, I’ve seen it again and again –

A world-traveling woman, now confined to a wheelchair by MS, no longer knows where all of her photos have gone. “My daughter might have thrown them away.”

An army general, who commanded large numbers of troops, now mostly sits in his easy chair, cornered by age and lungs ravaged by years of smoking. He tells me, “They won’t let me die.”

A professor and dean of his department at a celebrated university, has a deluded mind and speech smothered by Parkinsons. It’s difficult to hear and follow his lectures anymore.

A mother, who raised three daughters and now has many grand children, can’t recognize them, and asks when her mother will be coming to get her.

A librarian, lover and caretaker of books, now can only touch the pages, sometimes tearing them. Alzheimers has stolen her ability to read and even speak.

Another professor, also a gifted guitarist, now walks mutely through the halls and barely smiles when a guitar is placed in her forgetful hands.

There is one thing that all of these people still can recognize, still respond to. That is love, love in its most elemental forms – attentively making sure that food gets to their mouths; friendly smiles; gentle touching; the sound of old, familiar songs. The activities and accomplishments of the world fall away. The soul stands bare, still, waiting for love.

--Terra Rafael

No comments: