It was a January day when I said “Yes” to Ronnie and Vel. Ronnie was recovering from a serious health crisis that brought him close to death. The decision for life support was to continue, full speed ahead. Vel showed me a photo of Ronnie in the intensive care hospital bed. Now he was home, using a wheelchair and an alphabet board to express his needs. Their joy was contagious and their faith visible. I wanted to be a part of their life but this was a little out of my comfort zone. Could we meet his needs? Could we communicate?
It didn’t take long before I knew just how dedicated to rehabilitation this family was. Physical therapy, speech therapy, and Tai Chi filled Ronnie’s days. Soon Cora, with her background in music therapy, was working with Ronnie to clarify his vocalizations. When Ronnie sang his requests, we understood him! One day he forgot his wheelchair and came in the door with his walker to a round of applause from his new friends. He never turned back.
I didn’t know the day they walked in that I was saying yes to hope. So often, in our work we are faced with a disease that brings a series of losses. As we grow closer to our members they have less and less capacity to interact. Ronnie was different. He soon was fist bumping his friend who turned out to be his neighbor. He was an infusion of hope and faith just when we needed it.
It was National Adult Day Services Week and Vel and Ronnie had a surprise! They wouldn’t tell us what it was and laughed with excitement. On Friday, September 21 they showed up with arms full of beautiful orange flowers and had a card for everyone on the staff. For National Adult Day Services Week, Vel had gone to local merchants and told the story of adult day services and what it meant to them. The businesses donated gift cards to the Augustana Care Open Circle Adult Day Services staff. These thoughtful gifts were so appreciated! However, the greater gift is sharing the Open Circle story with our community. Who knows what life might be touched by those words!
Hope is contagious. It may not be as long range as Ronnie and Vel’s goals but it offers us encouragement each day. As the poet Emily Dickinson wrote:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
Augustana Care Open Circle Adult Day Services provides respite care for caregivers while helping people with changing physical, cognitive, and/or social abilities enjoy fulfilling lives. We offer three convenient locations throughout the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area. Each of our locations offer programs, recreation, personal care, respite and social connections to individuals with memory loss or other emotional and physical needs. Contact one of our centers to learn more about how Augustana Care Open Circle can support care partners to find balance and meaning in a life touched by memory loss or other diagnosis.
The author, Patty Crawford, is the Center Manager at Augustana Care Open Circle of Apple Valley. She has been a part of Augustana Care for over 40 years. Patty is also a sought-after public speaker on subjects of aging. She weaves her insight and research into meaningful presentations. Patty is a Master of Leadership graduate from Augsburg University.