I remember seeing her sitting there at a table in the recreation room of the nursing home, staring out the window. As I passed by, she looked my way, so I smiled and waved and she waved back. Since I was there as a volunteer, visiting anyone that would like a little company, I walked over and introduced myself.
“What is your name” I asked.
She replied “Florence”.
I sat down and commented on how beautiful the trees beyond the window were with the sun filtering through the branches. That is when I discovered that Florence was trapped within the walls of dementia. She started to talk and most of what she said was gibberish. I was only able to pick up a few words that allowed me to make comments. For the most part, I just sat and smiled, nodding my head from time to time.
We sat for about a half hour during which time Florence talked non stop. When I got up to leave, she waved and again began looking out the window.
Several weeks and several visits passed and I did not see Florence. Then, a few weeks ago, as the staff was assembling the residents in the recreation room for an activity, I looked at the faces in the room and there was Florence. As we caught each others eye, she smiled and yelled “Hi”. I walked over to her and she held out her arms and we shared a hug. I say shared because I don’t know if I gave one or got one. Probably both.
Since that day, I have seen Florence occasionally on my weekly visits. Each time I am the recipient of a smile and a hug. I don’t know who she may think I am, but she is always glad to see me. And if that, for just a little while makes her happy, then I am happy too. Sometimes it is just easier to communicate with your heart.
In remembrance of Florence who left us October 2015
Originally published September 2012