¨Mum’s talking nonsense¨, said Marisol to her sister Juani, ¨she says she has been at a wedding!!¨ ¨Well, don’t worry, she is 92 years old and such lapses are normal..¨
But no; Soledad, the mother of the two sisters was not talking nonsense, even though she is living in a care home where most of the residents suffer from Alzheimer’s or similar dementias.
And the thing is, the day following our wedding near Madrid last June, my new husband and I wanted to share our joy with the residents, family members and staff at the care home where my mother has been living for almost five years. We put our glad rags back on again, grabbed some bottles of cava and off we went, because our wedding would not have been complete without this second celebration.
Looking at the photo that illustrates this text, I don’t think I need to add any words to describe the special experience that this celebration involved, during which we even repeated our first dance from the day before!
The white dress, the bride’s bouquet, the first dance, the toast… These symbols that in our culture are linked to one of the most joyous rituals, so imbued with significance from the cycle of life, are engraved upon our memory at the very deepest level. A level at which forgetting is simply not possible, despite the cognitive deterioration of people with Alzheimer’s.
Some told us about their own weddings, with tears in their eyes. Others, with a lost gaze and the closed expression of those who have retired to their own little corner of solitude, broke into a smile that touched our hearts.
How about if we remembered a little more often that people who live in care homes are not parked in life?
What effect would it have on them?
What impact would it have on us?
And why am I speaking about “them” and “us”?
What have we invented that creates separation instead of the togetherness and connection that we all crave?
Moving your Soul