I love to observe people who are out and about. Sometimes I’m disappointed in what I see—like parents and children screaming at each other—but often I’m deeply touched. On a recent trip I witnessed an older gentleman who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. His behavior was inconsistent at best, and a bit scary at worst when his temper would flare as paranoia got the best of him. Mostly he thought people wanted to steal from him, so he was constantly checking his luggage. He also showed the classic symptom of repeating questions.
One of the other tourists was a man in his fifties. He was somewhat of a loner-type, and focused on his own interests. Out of necessity he was paired with the gentleman with Alzheimer’s as a roommate and was not pleased. However, by the end of the trip, I was amazed at how the two had bonded. The initial irritation by the non-Alzheimer’s man had been replaced by compassion. Perhaps there was a bit of “It could easily be me” in the mix, but the attitude change was heartwarming to see. I want to think I would have responded with kindness had I been the one rooming with a person edging down a murky Alzheimer’s path, but how can I say unless I lived it? For now, I’m grateful for what I witnessed, and grateful for the people who rise gracefully and accept responsibility when it lands unexpectedly in their lives. You know who you are, and I thank you.