“A person isn’t who they are during the last conversation you had with them – they’re who they’ve been throughout your whole relationship.” Ranier Maria Rilke
I love talking with Vernon, and I think he likes talking with me. But he really loves it these days when someone else comes to visit. Fresh conversation, among other things. I can also see different aspects of his personality, memory, or imagination emerge in unique ways in these visits.
Today, my brother Hyatt went up with me to visit Vernon during his dialysis session.
Here he is, either asking some random question I never would have thought to ask…or else listening to some stream of brilliance from Vernon’s big mind.
Hyatt had all kinds of questions, like: “What would you write if you wrote a book?”
Vernon had a thoughtful answer for everything, even if it didn’t always make sense…it was filled with confidence and imagination. The truth is, most of it did. He spoke a lot about his philosophy of work. That he wanted to be paid as well as be treated well for what he did, rather than just give his time and talent away. That sounds good to me, too. He wanted to know that people appreciate him and his effort.
Among other fascinating moments in the dialogue, he mentioned that he liked being asked to pray at the Christmas lunch the other day. He said it was nice to be included in such a way. It seems he is ready to offer something back to the world, not just sit and be taken care of. That’s a very good sign of a mind returning, I think. It’s as if his soul is expressing itself to us in these moments. Basic things that maybe we all would feel, but that we forget to stop and recognize. And because he has been still (and then a little mixed up) for so long, it feels that everything he tells us has a level of profundity to it, when they are simply universal thoughts.
The other day when he ‘blessed’ the meal, he said something wonderfully deep and contemplative. I won’t get it right, but it was something like: “Our Father, thank you for bringing us into a quiet place where we can know ourselves and have peace.” This was in the nursing home courtyard, surrounded by wild sugared-up child-cousins as well as rooms with sleeping long-term patients. The word peace wasn’t lost on me there, but I wondered what it meant to him after all these months. Perhaps he was just thinking of the current moment…a Christmas wish.
So today Hyatt asked him if he wanted to pray again. And Vernon just started in, surprising us both. He asked that I would be able to find a new home (Hello! Already answered!) and that Maki would come back safely and “know he was loved” and finally, he asked that he would learn to stop calling me Synnove (which he often does—it doesn’t bother me, its just the name he has longest in the ‘wife’ part of his brain.) I thought every single one of those thoughts was incredibly sweet. Can I get an AMEN?
It was a lovely afternoon. I saw another deep layer come up to the light. Thank you, Hyatt for helping him form and release his thoughts.