For some time now, I have been studying and learning about various forms and stages of dementia. Two ideas strike me deeply: an unknown author’s “Alzheimer’s Prayer” and a talk I heard recently. From the talk: Did you know that in our conversations, the following may be true when considering the importance of our so-called dialogues: 7% of what we say is how our words add up in importance; 38%, the tone of our voice; and 55%, our body language! Does that make you wonder why I keep a reminder on my desk: KYMS, i.e. Renee, keep your mouth shut? That is to say, we are not invisible, and if we had photo images of ourselves in a conversation, we might be overwhelmed by images that break our hearts!
Secondly, this unknown author’s prayer penetrates in words, what another feels in a supposedly helpful conversation:
I remember you with my heart
And I do love you!
I can’t recall where I knew you
Who you were, or who I was
Maybe I grew up with you
Or maybe we worked together
Or did we bowl together yesterday?
There is something wrong with my memory
But I do know you, I know I know you
And I do love you
I know how you make me feel
I remember the feelings we had together
My heart remembers,
It cries out in loneliness for you
For the feeling you give me now
When you leave
My mind will not remember that you were here
But my heart remembers
Remembers the feeling of friendship
And love returned
That I am less lonely and happier today
Because you have come
Please, please don’t forget me
And please don’t stay away
Because of the way my mind acts
I can still feel you,
I can remember you with my heart,
And heart memory is maybe…
The most important memory of all
Please pray with me that God’s love give peace to those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia and grant patience to their caregivers. AMEN.
Renée Domeier, OSB