In American life, we think we are most free when we don't need anybody. Exactly what Alzheimer's represents is absolute dependency - That's what we all need to learn - how deeply we need one another.
- Stanley Hauerwas, Professor of Theological Ethics
Nothing is more revealing than movement.
- Martha Graham, Dancer
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essayist
I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.
- Albert Schweitzer, Missionary
They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything.
- Bil Keane, Cartoonist
All real living is meeting.
- Martin Buber, Philosopher
A good traveler is one who does not know where he is going to, and a perfect traveler does not know where he came from.
- Lin Yutang, Writer
You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
- A. A. Milne, Author (Winnie the Pooh)
The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
- William James, Philosopher
Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.
- Christopher Columbus, Explorer
Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat . . .We must find each other.
- Mother Theresa, Saint
If someone listens, or stretches out a hand, or whispers a kind word of encouragement, or attempts to understand a lonely person, extraordinary things begin to happen.
- Loretta Girzartis, Author
Memory Bridge Newsletter
06/23/09 - Tough Cookie
One of the first things students in the Memory Bridge program are asked to do is to draw “life maps” ― visual depictions of the experiences, memories, thoughts, feelings and dreams that make up their life story. Creating these drawings of their own unique worlds helps the students understand that each Memory Bridge buddy also inhabits a rich, deep and highly personal world; it gives the students a chance as well to reveal intimate, sometimes traumatic, experiences that might otherwise be hard to talk about.
Jamie’s life map portrays a world of violence, loneliness and harshness ― as well as remarkable resiliency. A picture of a prone body commemorates the friend she found, shot to death in an alley, when she was 11 years old. In one corner she has drawn her parents wearing blindfolds because, she says, “they didn’t watch me enough.” She once was jumped and beaten by seven girls for reasons she is not sure of. She spent her junior-high years and the first two years of high school hanging out, drinking, getting into fights and not going to school. “I wasn’t putting myself first. I wasn’t thinking about the future,” she reflects.
But Jamie’s life map also depicts the incredible strides she has made toward changing her life. After two years of skipping school, she decided to switch schools and start over. She is proud of what she has accomplished ― and she should be. She is making straight A’s and hoping to skip a year (due to the years she missed, she’s currently two years older than her classmates). “My teachers all love me,” she says. She has twice been named Student of the Month, and she won a bronze medal in a citywide arts competition. “I am going to college,” she says, leaving no doubt about it.
Jamie opted out of a paying after-school program to participate in Memory Bridge. Her grandma lives in a long-term care facility, she says, and she enjoys “talking to the little old ladies” there. By sheer coincidence, her Memory Bridge buddy, Alice, grew up in the same Chicago neighborhood, went to the same grammar school and attended the same two high schools as Jamie. In a strange sort of symmetry, Alice got in trouble and did poorly at Jamie’s current school, so she transferred to the school that Jamie had transferred out of, where she excelled.
Jamie describes Alice with affection. “She has white curls and a little mouth. Sometimes she doesn’t remember who I am, but I just tell her that I came to keep her company.” Here is what she has learned about Alice: She was married twice (her first husband died, and she left the second one after he cheated on her), she enjoys sledding, she loves to bake and chocolate chip cookies are her favorite.
“Being in Memory Bridge and visiting Alice makes me feel good,” says Jamie. “It just makes me feel good at heart.”