My office door at the church is right next to the receptionist desk. This means that I hear everything that goes on there - every phone call she takes, every person that walks through, every time someone goes to the bathroom, not to mention how long they stay in there. Every time a delivery person stops by and nobody is at the receptionist desk, my door is the first one they stick their head into to get a signature for a package, or to figure out where they are supposed to go. Which is fine, I don't mind, and I'm getting a crash course into the inner workings of how to run a church. Not that I need that for my career, but hey.
It also means that I'm getting pretty clear on what happens when and where in the building. I know that Tai Chi is Mondays at 11am, and Chair Yoga is Tuesdays at 2pm. And on Wednesday, the Alzheimer's support group meets in the parlor.
Last week a couple that have been longtime members of our church came in for the Alzheimer's support group. The husband is in the fairly advanced stages of the disease. His wife is a strong woman, you can see it in her eyes, she is strong and determined and by God, she has a handle on this. You can see it in the way she carries herself. She reminds me of my grandmother, who called upon her own life skills as a nurse assistant and took care of my cancer-riddled grandfather for 10 years until he died in hospice, about 10 minutes before she arrived.
So this couple comes in, and at this point I'm not really aware of why they are in the church, I'm sort of listening through the door while working on email and so forth. And she points him to the bathroom, and then she heads down the hall to to the meeting.
When he came out of the bathroom he kind of looked around, and then stood there for a minute. And then I heard him ask the receptionist where his wife went. She told him that she was probably down in the parlor for the meeting.
And then I heard him say, "Okay. Where is the parlor?"
This man has been in this building every week of his life for at least 20 years, probably longer. And he doesn't remember any of it.
The receptionist just stood up and came around her desk and walked him down there, while I sat there at my desk, stunned, tearing up.
Alzheimer's disease scares me. It scares me for what may come in my own family, in my husband's family, where it was not diagnosed in grandparents, back then it was just called senility or dementia, but that's probably what it was. And it will possibly happen to my father-in-law, and my husband, and someday my boys. Although, I really hope by then we've figured out a way to stop it.
Vist the Alzheimer's Foundation for more info, and donate if you can.