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Missed Connection
Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2019 10:40 AM
Joined: 7/13/2017
Posts: 444

I was sitting with my DW at the MC, she chattering away with her cheerful nonsense, I puttering on my laptop, listening out of the corner of my ear, tossing verbal foam Kathleen’s way as needed. A new resident,  Christine, was sitting beside me and noticed that I had visited to my church’s website.  

“Do you go to an Episcopal Church?” she asked me.

Professional caregivers long for such gifts, such delivered-to-your-door opportunities to make a connection with persons living with dementia. The professionals know how important to the effectiveness of the caregiving relationship it is to find some way to make a true personal connection to someone placed in their care whom they’ve never met before, and who has limited ability to communicate.

So any pro worth their salt would have been oh so grateful for the opening I had been presented with. Instead of having to search, perhaps with many failed attempts, for something of interest to Christine that they could connect through, a savvy caregiver would have seen this question as an invitation: “talk to me. I have an interest of some sort in church, perhaps specifically the Episcopal church. Let’s talk.” An insightful professional would have adeptly put aside their other work and would have focused on Christine and her question, giving her an answer and then building on it perhaps with softball inquiries like, “Do you go to an Episcopal Church, Christine?” “Can you tell me about it? About your minister? The congregation? Did it have a choir? Was it a big congregation? Were there church activities you liked?”

One could spend an afternoon exploring the branches of the conversation that could grow from Christine’s initial seed of a question---if one were a professional.

But that’s not me, Mr. Toad.

I have been mentally kicking myself ever since for almost snubbing Christine. Oh, I was polite; I answered her (“yes I do”). “I used to go to an Episcopal Church in Toledo” she responded. (She’d just handed me two new connection opportunities---“Toledo”, and “used to”. But to my great regret, I just wasn’t where I appeared to be that day. I, my mind, was actually somewhere else, thinking about a class I was preparing for. I was just not there in the MC, in the moment. So I just exchanged another pleasantry or two with Christine, but I didn’t make a human connection, because I wasn’t really trying to.

Yeah, I know, it wasn’t my job. I was at the MC for my wife, not for Christine; taking care of Christine is not my job, not my responsibility. She’s not my Loved One. Perhaps not. But she is a Loved One. And she deserved better from me as a fellow human person. I am constantly reminded that I am a work in progress.



Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2019 12:29 PM
Joined: 1/23/2017
Posts: 1285

It always amazes me how even the most insignificant thing can have value. Even a missed connection. Imagine how much more observant Mr. Toad will be in the future as, with this lesson reverberating in the recesses of his mind, he spots the next potential connection, and, without missing a beat, picks up the baton and charges off down the track. Score one more point for the team. Unless of course, you're like Chris. He has the uncanny ability to not only miss the connection, but to also have it pass him by without him ever even realizing what happened.

But next time, maybe things will be different. Next time, remembering the story of Mr. Toad, perhaps even he will sense the baton at his side and pick it up.

We have to accept that all too often, our side advances in the most microscopic of ways. But, a win is a win is a win, and I suspect that most of us are darned happy to have a particular toad on our team.

George K
Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2019 3:41 PM
Joined: 12/16/2011
Posts: 2818

So MrToad and Chris, I just happened to check out the Alz site today.  I don't know if you guys are like me, but I'm really hard on myself.  Perhaps I'm a self-perfectionist .  One of the views I have of life is that we're spiritual beings having a human experience.  One of my favorite sentences regarding that is: "Being human is not a defect of character."  So to both of you I would say: (even though you didn't ask,) "To thine own self be kind."
Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2019 5:21 PM
Joined: 1/23/2017
Posts: 1285

You know, George, I sure do wish there was a thumbs up button here. Since there ain't, brother, here's a thumbs up from me.
Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2019 5:39 PM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 19631

Like button.......very much
Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2019 5:51 PM
Joined: 8/19/2016
Posts: 415

Show yourself some ELCA style grace! We all fall short but continually get to start anew.
Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2019 7:34 PM
Joined: 9/8/2017
Posts: 2329

Ah geez guys...I’m usually the person acting super busy or digging into my kindle to not start conversations....or kinda hope something comes along to find an excuse to break a conversation and leave. But I understand this is different.  Hey, you’ll see Christine again. A second chance will come :o)
Jo C.
Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2019 9:07 AM
Joined: 12/9/2011
Posts: 11597

Our dear friend, Jim; what a terrific learning experience you had, and even better, you have now educated all of us!   There is some very positive energy in all of this. 

You are an intuitive person; many others would not have "grokked' that at all, but you being you, did, and knowing you as we do, I am willing to bet you will put your new insight into use in the future..

There is a quote I saw on a billboard atop a building that  I particulary like:

"No matter what your past, your future is spotless."

 So; you learned, you shared, we learned . . . . appears a win to me.    Have to thank Christine for her part too!


Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2019 6:45 PM
Joined: 7/13/2017
Posts: 444


Thanks for the kind words, as always.


Happy to be on the team with y'all, sorry we all have to be.


You are already right. I encountered Christine again today. It was brief, but I made just enough extra effort to reach out and greet her, that I got a brief, but very real flash of recognition and appreciation. She was being escorted to a physical therapy session, so I couldn't pursue it, but, (Jo, you know what's coming) this could be the start of a beautiful relationship.

Jo C.
Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2019 7:37 AM
Joined: 12/9/2011
Posts: 11597

I am smiling with a bit of a quiet chuckle; yes, I can pretty much imagine what will come of this Jim, a blessing for Christine and so many others to come. 

Enlightenment comes unbidden and is a gift when received.

There is something that moves me deeply when encountering the very aged, as well as those with physical and mental challenges.  This same deep feeling also extends itself when lucky enough to encounter babies and children, extending into those in their teenage years.  Though I feel the importance of all individuals; those particular stages and states of life seem to reach out to me on an even deeper level and resonates in my heart of hearts.  It is lovely and I am grateful for it.

We need so many more Mr.Toad's in this world.  Wouldn't that be wonderful.



Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2019 10:45 PM
Joined: 7/13/2017
Posts: 444

Well, Jo, in Better Days, my Kathleen would have disagreed with you on many occasions. “One toad is enough” I can hear her saying.

But to the point that the world could use some more human connections, amen. Indeed a huge topic, and of course I am particularly sensitive to it in the microcosm of the Memory Center. I’ve said before that the place where Kathleen is, is a particularly good facility, and all of the Personal Assistants (PA’s) there do their jobs well. But as in any outfit, some excel, and some get by. The ones who excel choose to spend quiet moments—when they are not busy with meals or with helping individual residents with ADL’s—making connections with residents. They bring them one of the electronic dogs or cats, or a magazine or catalog and flip through it with them; they engage them in conversation, however stilted or lopsided. Or they just talk to the residents, because they understand that even if a PWD does not respond, talking to them is meaningful to them.

The PA’s who just get by choose to spend their off moments with their noses pointed at the smartphones, reading, watching videos or texting or whatever it is that is more important than extending some friendship, even momentarily, to the generally sweet, innocent, nearly helpless people sitting around them.

“Let those among you who are without sin….”the Lord said. Yes, ouch. as for me, I pretty much ignored MC resident Martha for a long time. I had never known her to walk, nor speak. I would greet her by name when I arrived each day at the MC, but neither got any reply, nor did I ever even try to engage with her at all. Again, she was not my Loved One, but still…

Martha did have family who visited her weekly and I remember walking past the activity room where they had taken her and seeing that she was playing a board game with them. Not just watching, actually playing, UNO I think it was.

 She died of pneumonia (a “complication of Alzheimer’s”) a week later.

Connections are possible all the way. Let that be a lesson to me.



Jo C.
Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2019 3:03 PM
Joined: 12/9/2011
Posts: 11597

In every profession; in every job, there are those that are simply marvelous at what they do; there are those who are average; and there are those that simply choose not to make the mark; (and some who should not be in their job/profession).  It is so in every place of work, no matter how small or how large the responsibility.  Human nature. This takes on such special and heavy meaning when the job is providing care to those who are dependent upon others for said care.

As for us who care about our own behavior, it is that thing all of we humans have inherent in ourselves . . .  we have not only sins of commission, but sins of omission.   And of course that is the spinning wheel of those nagging regrets. 

So many times during the years of this so called journey, I easily recall my lapses, some small and some larger; I wish I had done better.  I also wonder why the very good things I managed, some small and some larger, do not knock on the memory center in my cranium as often as the other side does.   Just is what it is.

The one good thing is that most of us humans have the ability to learn just as you have done and taken to heart.  This Thread has renewed my awareness, thank you Mr. Jim of the Toad classification.