When I showed up at the Care Home late in the afternoon, this was the scene that greeted me:
Erik and Luke had come to visit Vernon, and they had been sitting at this table for a couple of hours before I arrived. They had been showing him videos of different bands they’d deduced he liked. “Not any American music,” they told me. They had also watched episodes of The Young Ones, an alternative BBC comedy from the 80s. They’d brought pens to doodle with, and they talked about Typography. Here is the list I noticed on the table:
If the diners hadn’t started wheeling in to eat their early meal, it looked like Vernon would have been happy to stay at watch music videos and talk shop with the boys much longer. Both Erik and Luke are graphic artists. I felt like the mother coming in to take her teenager away from his friends. You can see from the photo how upright he was, leaning toward the guys with great interest. He was obviously stimulated and thrilled to have their company. He looked the most engaged and happy that I’d seen him in a long time.
I know how it is…without some actual peers who are interested in similar things, life can get boring. But just a little time with an old (or new!) friend can leave you reinvigorated and inspired. They can also help you feel “normal,” not like the weird one you secretly believe you are.
Even after they left, Vernon remained wide-eyed and alert for a long time, making transportation plans for his great escape home. He calls Joe, “Lee” most of the time now. We don’t know who the original Lee is, but lately, this has been pretty consistent.
Joe told me that earlier in the day, before his friends had arrived, a new attendant, who didn’t realize Vernon was supposed to be reclining in his geri-chair, had pushed him upright against the Bingo table in the multi-purpose room, where Vernon attempted to join the game. He said to Joe: “Next time, I’ll need your help to read the numbers.” So that’s their big plan for tomorrow (after Mary Lou’s on site memorial service.)
So today at least, I see a positive shift. He can tolerate being up at a table, trying to hold his own, as long as there are people around and interesting things to engage with. And not only that, he wants to.
“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”