Every Monday I have the pleasure of visiting Joan. Now let me start by saying I have spoken with Joan’s daughter at length, and she is very glad that I come to visit Joan once a week to bring her Communion. Not to say that Joan isn’t glad, quite the opposite. She is ecstatic to see me every week. The only trouble is one of identity.
Yes, Joan has full fledged dementia. So every week, I am someone else. And most weeks, I am several people in the same conversation.
One week I was there, they were having a social event. Every time they have a recreational opportunity for the residents, they give them some fake money, and this was their chance to spend it. While far less dangerous than Black Friday, this was still some very serious business. Haggling is a lost art form, we should all attend these events to brush up on our skills.
Joan however was not all that engaged, as she had fallen asleep in the hallway with her wad of cash. Joan was rolling in the dough, with a stack of bills that would have been the envy of all the other participants had they seen her, but in her quiet corner, she had been mostly forgotten.
“Good morning Joan!” is usually all I really ever get in, and this was no exception. It took me a good five minutes to realize I was her nephew today, as it didn’t really dawn on me until she was giving me money to help with my rent. I of course let her know how deeply I appreciated the help, took the cash, and when she wasn’t paying attention, slipped it back into her lap.
She went on to tell me about all sorts of things, no more than one sentence devoted to each topic, a bit about her new baby, some silly thing her husband did this morning, (he died here in one of the bathrooms, and she can often be found trying to get in there to talk to him in the middle of the night) about her aunt pulling her hair, all sorts of great, very short stories. Then she noticed the money in her lap, and proceeded to give me some money for rent, since I am having such a hard time.
This played out four or five times till I realized I needed to get to my other friends, and needed to get her Communion. So after praying with her, (while she tells me how to cook artichokes) I finally lift up the host.
It never fails. She stops talking immediately, and just stares, until she receives it on the tongue, as she always has, making the sign of the cross.
It is a golden moment of clarity for her, and you see it every single time. It is also a golden moment of clarity for me.
Ah, but it only lasts but a moment, and with the host still in her mouth, she begins again, offering me some money to help with the rent.
God bless Joan.
Lord, I don’t really need my mind, as long as I always know who You are.
(of course her name isn’t really Joan)