A Tale of Two Stories 

I made my first trip to Naples, Florida on Monday, and it was as beautiful a place as I had expected! But this trip wasn’t about the gorgeous weather, the pristine beaches or the upscale shopping. It was a tale of two stories.

I was set to speak yesterday morning to a combined group of folks from Arden Courts and the Alzheimer’s Support Network of Naples. I was notified on Monday evening that a second speaker had been scheduled to speak for an hour before my 11am start time. I knew instantly who the other speaker was…. His name is Richard Taylor, PhD, author of the bestselling book “Alzheimer’s from the Inside Out”. He’s a former professor now in his 8th year with Alzheimer’s disease, and I was excited to hear his perspective since so few people can articulate what it’s like to have Alzheimer’s.

Richard’s presentation was amazing and I’m so glad I arrived early enough to hear it. He used NO notes and never seemed to get off topic or confused!! I was stunned by that fact!! He even took questions and answered them well. Again, I was shocked!! Mom can no longer put two complete sentences together much less answer questions. He said he’s done so many presentations and knows the material well, so that even if he gets off-track he just apologizes for losing his train of thought and moves on to something else.

I learned a lot from him, and much of what he shared confirmed for me that I’m doing many of the right things with Mom. For example, Richard said he hates it when his wife or kids tell him how many times he’s repeated a sentence!! He said “I don’t need to be told that!” The audience roared with laughter!! I thought to myself, “I sure am glad I’ve never shared with my Mom how many times she’s repeated a sentence!”

He also said that in spite of his Alzheimer’s he’s still a “whole person”, and that he wishes that people would stop saying he isn’t. I get that too, and I try to always to engage Mom to see “where she is at that moment in time” and I try to meet her where she is. This past Sunday at our Easter egg hunt, Mom and I sat down to rest for a moment while Kendal continued to seek out more eggs. Kendal is clearly aware that something is not quite right with Grandma, but she’s not sure what it is. So while we were resting Kendal ran over with her basket of eggs and put some in Mom’s bucket so they’d have an equal amount. Mom said to me ” she’s so nice” and I agreed. The two of them hugged. It was a special moment and Kendal beamed, so proud of her act of sharing.

When I got up to share my story yesterday in Naples, I added some of the different things that I had learned from Richard Taylor that will help me with Mom. I’m grateful for those lessons. He wasn’t able to stay for my presentation, but I’d hope that he may have learned something from me as well, especially about the amount of patience that I have. As he ended his presentation, Richard encouraged all of us to become advocates in the fight against Alzheimer’s and I’ve certainly tried to do that!! 

As my book tour continues, I hope I will meet other authors from whom I can gain different perspectives. During the luncheon after my presentation, I went around and met everyone in the room. At this particular support group meeting, everyone is encouraged to bring their loved-ones with Alzheimer’s with them, because it’s a safe place where everyone is met “exactly where they are”. I engaged with and hugged each of them. One awesome woman kept repeating “thank you very much for coming” and it just warmed my heart. Her husband said he felt a deep connection to me after my presentation and must have held my hand for about 10 minutes, yet we shared very few words.

Now that I’ve written this post, it occurs to me that yesterday really wasn’t a tale of two stories, it was in fact a tale of many. 


4 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Stories 

  1. Thank you, Loretta, for sharing these vignettes of your experience, for surely much more could you have written (and perhaps, as you continue to reflect, have yet to write!). I am delighted that the day carried forth so splendidly well. That Dr. Taylor’s presentation was enlightening, especially given your sense of your having done and doing things with your mother that speak grandly of your deep understanding, compassion, and patience. That you folded into your presentation your immediate learnings from Dr. Taylor’s address (that’s what I call being good, no, even better, grand on your feet!). That you found and made connection with the folks not to or at whom you spoke, but, truly, as I read and reflect on your words in this post and in so many others, WITH whom you spoke. Again, my dear sister, thanks for writing and sharing, verily, thanks for BEING!

  2. Thanks Paul!! It was quite the day!!!

    One of the traits I believe I was “gifted with” was the ability to connect enough with people to get the true essence of what they are saying and then using their words in my presentation without notes to show that what they shared was important enough for me to retain and use. This ability has taken me much farther than I ever thought possible. Yesterday several people commented how much they had learned from me simply because of how much of Richard’s (he insists folks call him that) presentation I had digested and immediately began to act upon. They said they’d learned from me the importance of taking action when you hear something useful that can make a difference in another person’s life.

    I definitely could have written more, but one of the many things I’ve learned from your blog (and your words to me) is to get to the point, and then…end. When stories need to be long, I make them so, but when they don’t I force myself not to. I may indeed write more later, but for now, your awesome response confirmed for me that I shared just enough!! Thanks!!

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