Personal reflection – a Visit with Red - written April 28, 2012
I walk through the door to his room…quietly. He is lying on his left side, his back to the door, his body turned toward the windows, in a fetal position.
His wife of 50 years had put him there. Couldn’t care for him anymore at home. That was a year ago.
Now he didn’t know her name or recognize her face.
The usual visits are the theater of the absurd. Becket’s’ Waiting for Godot. Blank stairs. Monologues. Boredom. Wondering why I go…except…he’s there. I could be too.
I tiptoe around the foot of the bed. I hear his voice. His eyes are closed. His lips are moving. ”Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take” – the prayer he committed to memory as a child.
He finishes and seems at peace. I pause…quietly speak his name…and place my hand gently on his shoulder. He opens his eyes.
“Good morning, Red. It’s Gordon.”
“Your pastor…from Knox Church.”
His eyes grow wide. He smiles. He reaches out his hand…and looks me in the eye – a memory unlocked from deep within his soul…beyond the reach of Alzheimer’s.
“The Church Choir” - Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, April 28, 2012
Words sung can be remembered long
after words said. A person with
Alzheimer’s still may sing a song
recalled from church or school. The myth
that music is a gift for few
blessed with a perfect pitch is just
malicious: any in a pew
who talk can sing! Of course, they must
speak S-L-O-W-L-Y and (the hardest thing
of all) must listen to others
around them–and follow the fingers
or baton of conductors
who beg and plead, talk loud or soft
to lure folks into the choir loft
All these years later…I wish I’d sung with Red that day. ”Jesus loves me; this I know…” S-L0-W-L-Y… from the choir loft… in the nursing home.