“Where there is great love there are always miracles.” Willa Cather.
I am always looking for wonderful love stories and I found this one when I was visiting the blog of one of my favorite writers, Louise Penny. I went to her site because I had just finished reading her book, A Fatal Grace, and I was feeling withdrawal. Plus, I knew her husband was living with dementia and I thought she might have some insights. She has some deep insights and she has generously given me permission to share them with you.
From Louise Penny:
Michael no longer knows my name. And now needs help eating. He can no longer walk on his own, and cannot read, or do puzzles. He barely speaks. He sleeps a lot, and I try not to take it personally, as though I am not doing a good job stimulating him. But, poor guy, when I try to stimulate him, by singing or dancing or finding games that might interest him, he looks at me, smiles. And falls asleep.
He remains the happiest man I know. Smiling at everyone. Reaching out for people’s hands.
And people are so very, very kind. I could never have predicted that when people visit, the first thing they do is go over to Michael, introduce themselves even though he’s known most for years, and chat. He loves it.
And then he falls asleep.
At bedtime, when he is finally and gratefully horizontal, I whisper in his ear. Something that came out of a horrific event in 2014, when Corporal Nathan Cirillo was shot and killed by a gunman on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa.
As the young man lay dying, men and women ran over to try to help him. One woman, Barbara Winters, knelt beside him and whispered in his ear that he was loved. That he was a good man and a brave man. She just kept repeating that.
And now, every night, after I turn the light out, I whisper in Michael’s ear that he’s a handsome man. A kind man. That he is thoughtful and funny and he makes everyone around him feel special. I whisper that he is loved, and he is safe. And then I kiss him good night. And he smiles.
Then I whisper to myself, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” #
To learn more about Louise Penny and her books and her ideas, please visit https://www.facebook.com/louisepennyauthor
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Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.