There is one very special lady who lives in ‘the establishment’ with me & for the sake of anonimity we will call her Valda!
I met Valda on one of the first days I was here as her room was only a few doors up from mine so I would often see her roaming the hallways aimlessly not exactly sure where she was heading! Some days I would grab her hand & take her down to the main lounge as I was pretty sure her body clock was telling her it was time for a cup of tea & funnily enough most days she was pretty much on time. Other days it would be early in the morning, way to early for Valda to be up & about & because I’m the newspaper deliverer I’m up quite early & I would find Valda walking down the hall in her pyjamas, looking half asleep. On one particular morning I asked her what on earth she was doing up so early & worse still walking around in her pyjamas & her beautiful response to me was ‘I have to go down to pay my 18 dimes so I can keep my room’! Poor Valda……the sad thing was, was that she wasn’t convinced that she wanted to keep her room as her bed was not all that comfortable! Well, I had a perfect suggestion, how bout I take her back to her room so she can give her bed another test & have another little sleep in it & that might help her with her final decision! She thought that was a fantastic idea & so yet again Valda & I clutched hands & started the slow walk back to her room. I reminded her at that point that her room was very special as she even had a photo of herself blown up & put on her door just as a reminder that was her special room. She did agree with me at that point that the 18 dimes might just be worth spending, but she will still have to wait & see!
Unfortunately Valda’s dementia reached a stage where she was no longer able to manage in the hostel part of ‘the establishment’ so she has recently been transferred over to the nursing home section. It is still all part of the one main building but it is just further out the back & I don’t get to see Valda as much as she is not given the freedom to “wander”!
I noticed since Valda had moved to the nursing home section that she had lost weight & I suspected she was starting to lose her interest in food, so I came up with a plan. One day I asked her if she liked smarties & she rapidly responded ‘oh yes, there my favourite’, I wasn’t convinced that she had any idea what I was asking about but I thought it was worth a shot!
One of my favourite things to do seeings I am unable to eat anything is to suck on smarties so I always have an endless supply of smarties. They just melt in your mouth so beautifully so I thought they would be perfect for Valda! Every time we get our medications here we get them in a little disposable medicine cup, so I thought that would be a perfect size for some smartes for Valda! I managed to convince one of the carers to give me a supply & I liked filled one & took off on my little smartie giving trip! WELL……….Valda was thrilled, it was like Christmas had just arrived & Santa had come bearing gifts. She loved them & ate them very slowly but you could tell she savouring every new smartie! I was thrilled, she was thrilled so we had two very happy campers!
The next day came & I thought to myself, I had better make sure I stay true to my smartie promise ‘I will see you tomorrow Valda with your smarties’, so off i went again with the half filled medicine cup of smarties. Walked into Valda’s room & presented her with her smarties that I had promised her from yesterday! She looked at me with a blank look on her face & said ‘I didn’t have any smarties yesterday’ & I thought for a second was it wRoth my effort going into the details of how I brought them down etc & I quickly decided it wasn’t! So, we went down the same road again…….it was just like Santa had come for the first time with a half medicine cup of smarties. The look of delight on her face was absolutely one of sheer delight & if only I could have taken a picture of her adorable face, but for her & her families sake I feel it is important that I give her some privacy. What I did capture though was a picture of her holding the smartie cup & that is just special in itself!
After spending the time with Valda that I have since I have been living with the oldies I have learned that Valda held an extremely professional job when she was younger, which would have required many years of study. She still to this day is a very attractive lady & takes great delight in being told how pretty she looks. The only thing that poor Valda is missing is her ability to remember her day to day activities, her ability to shower & toilet herself, & Im sure it won’t be too long where she will no longer be able to feed herself. What a horrible disease that can affect anyone! No matter who you are, what you’ve done in your life you are not immune from the dreaded “D” word, dementia.
In saying all this, I don’t want to finish this post on a negative note as that was not at all my intention! Even though Valda is not able to recall that I bought her a cup of smarties the day before, the sheer pleasure she gets each new day from her new surprise is so wonderful. VaIda is happy, she is not distressed by her situation as she is not aware that she is not able to remember. I guess for me, it is just a reminder to enjoy & treasure every day, never take anything or anyone for granted because you just never know how long you have them for!Major on the majors & leave the minors to take care of themselves! God bless the Valda’s of this world!