We visited my sister-in-law, Norma, and her husband, Dale, earlier this month for Norma’s birthday. They live independently in a graduated –care facility. Dale is afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease as are many of the people in residence there.
Church services are held every Sunday at various places in the community and Norma often plays the flute during services held for people who need around the clock care. Norma says that it is a joyous time because while many of the men and women cannot remember their own names, they do remember the hymns of their childhood. When the music starts, everyone joins in the singing. Dale has a fine baritone.
One particular Sunday, Dale and Norma joined the minister at the back of the chapel to greet people as they left. One older woman approached them slowly, babbling. Martha had lost the ability to speak coherently, but still had something to say. Martha babbled with words and sounds as she struggled to communicate. The minister listened for a few moments and then put his arm around her. “I love you, Martha,” he said. And without hesitation came the clear reply “I love you, too.”
I hope that when I cannot say anything else, I can still say “I love you.”