I found this quote this morning in the Faith in Older People summer newsletter. As I often visit people with Alzheimers and have a father with dementia, it is giving me food for thought. Especially the last bit. (Not the cartoon!)
Where does this journey begin and at what stage can you deny me my selfhood and my spirituality? As I lose my identity in the world around me, which is so anxious to define me by what I say or do and say rather than who I am, I can seek an identity by simply being me, a person created in the image of God. My spiritual self is reflected in the divine and given meaning as a transcendent being.
As I travel towards the dissolution of myself, my personality, my very ‘essence’, my relationship with God needs increasing support from you, my other in the body of Christ. Don’t abandon me at any stage… sing alongside me, touch me, pray with me, reassure me of your presence… I may not be able to affirm you, to remember who you are or whether you have visited me. But you have brought Christ to me. If I enjoy your visit, why must I remember it? Why must I remember who you are? Is it to satisfy your OWN need for identity? If I forget a pleasant memory it does not mean it was not important to me.
These are the words of Christian Bryden, an Australian with Alzheimer’s who spoke at a conference in 2002