After retiring last Spring I’d decided to volunteer to visit a few people at a local memory care facility. I got the idea from my dogs’ veterinarian, Ann McHugh, DVM, who volunteers to visit people in a hospice care facility.
Ann told me it was rewarding, and I’d heard the same thing from other friends and acquaintances. I never believed them. I could understand how the residents could benefit from my visits but not that I would benefit even more.
So it was a surprise to learn it’s true. No matter what mood I’m in when I arrive I always feel better when I leave. I truly do receive so much more than I give.
Carolyn, my first lady to see, was sitting in the lobby with three other residents. I went up to her, introduced myself, and told her I was there to visit her.
“Me?” she asked, smiling and sounding pleasantly surprised.
“Yes, you,” I answered promptly.
She was delighted to have a visitor even if she had no earthly idea who I was or why I was there to see her. We went to her room, where I gave her a small gift.
She said, “I’m sorry I don’t have anything to give you.”
To help her save face I pointed out that she had some cookies on her table.
“Sure,” she said, laughing. “Take as many as you want.”
Despite her shaky memory, Carolyn’s social skills were so good you would have thought she was volunteering to visit me! And those cookies were some of the best I ever had.
Another one of my favorite ladies is Ruth. She once told me, “You’re the only person around here I can have an intelligent conversation with.”
She and I always have great visits filled with laughter. Ruth has an outstanding sense of humor that Alzheimer’s hasn’t robbed her of. I hope it never will. When it’s time for me to leave we’re both sorry.
Every week I look forward to Thursday’s visits, wondering what my ladies are going to say or do next.