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
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essayist
The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
- William James, Philosopher
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
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
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)
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
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
Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.
- Christopher Columbus, Explorer
All real living is meeting.
- Martin Buber, Philosopher
Memory Bridge Newsletter
06/10/08 - Stories from the Bridge: Singapore
The Chicago Memory Bridge program is currently beginning its sixth successful semester of educating at-risk junior high and high school students about how to communicate in emotionally meaningful ways with people with Alzheimer's disease. The program teaches students listening, verbal, and non-verbal skills that help them form relationships with their "Buddies": individuals with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia living in nearby long-term care facilities. The students and their Buddies visit four times in 12 weeks, which allows them to really get to know one another. What follows is an example of how these "Buddy" experiences can grow to surpass even the confines of illness.
On the last visit of the Memory Bridge program, each participating student presents a gift to his or her Buddy, called the Buddy Project. This Buddy Project represents the relationship the student and resident have formed together, and is an enduring reminder to the Buddies that they are remembered and cherished. The Memory Bridge coordinators have the pleasure of seeing every one of these Buddy Projects during the final visits, and we are able to witness some extraordinary exchanges of friendship and meaningful human connection.
This January, Lawrence, a student from King College Prep High School, presented his Buddy Project to his friend Mr. Clarence, a resident of the Bronzeville Park Skilled Nursing and Living Center in Chicago. Mr. Clarence is a particularly quiet man--he has a difficult time with speech as a result of the progression of his illness. Lawrence is a polite and considerate young man, who would wear ties and button-down shirts to the facility, out of respect for Mr. Clarence. As the coordinator for this class, I previously had wondered how or what Lawrence would do about his Buddy Project, because occasionally students struggle with creating projects for their less talkative Buddies.
At the final visit, Lawrence presented Mr. Clarence with his Buddy Project creation--a "Travel Book." On the back of the book, Lawrence wrote a poem explaining how much he appreciated visiting with Mr. Clarence and the moments they shared. The second part of the poem was instructional--suggesting to Mr. Clarence that any time he wanted to visit a place, he could do so from the comfort of his home by turning to a page in his Travel Book.
Each set of facing pages in the book had a different location: Tokyo, Beijing, Mexico, Jamaica, Hawaii, Singapore, Australia, etc. And on those pages were pictures of local sights--like a real scrapbook--with little tidbits of information about the locales and local expressions ("¡Hola!" on the Mexico page, "G'day mate!" on the Australia page, and "Aloha!" on the Hawaii page). I asked Mr. Clarence if he had traveled to those places, but Mr. Clarence didn't respond. Lawrence spoke up for him, letting me know that Mr. Clarence hadn't actually been to any of the places in the Travel Book.
Though Mr. Clarence had never before visited the sights in his new Travel Book, we discovered that he was certainly ready to embark on a new journey. When Lawrence was saying goodbye, Mr. Clarence, who was clutching his new Travel Book, slowly whispered, "Tonight I'm going to go to Singapore."