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Chuck Hinman: IJMA 309 - The Party

It's Just Me Again No. 309. The Party. Chuck Hinman shares the outline of a 'Tv Script,' he wrote while confronting his beloved wife's bout with Alzheimer's.
The next earlier Chuck Hinman column: IJMA No. 358: Living with AD

By Chuck Hinman

These thoughts are taken from a sympathy letter I sent last week to a good friend whose aunt, Aunt Birdie passed away at a local nursing home....

"...When my wife Connie, was in her declining years along with others, I guess the "writer in me" prompted me to write a story, or the script for a TV special, with the nursing home residents as the actors -- where for just one time, all the residents were transformed so that all were of sound mind, in their prime so to speak.

The event would be an afternoon social at the nursing home where each shared with each other about their mates, their grandchildren, the book they were reading, a good recipe, and just normal friends conversation and on and on.

All were dressed nicely, stylish shoes and hose, coiffed and manicured and of course free from walking devices. Each smelled good and there was just a noisy air of a joyful good time being had by all -- a party atmosphere where all were normal, well-educated, refined people with the hopes and dreams yet to be lived out in their remaining years.

In this story, the nursing home staff was stunned and amazed spectators at what they were witnessing! These weren't babbling, smelly, cantankerous trouble-makers! They were our precious loved ones -- the ones we chose to share our lives with -- in sickness and health, for better or worse, etc....

After this one-time party was lived out and their story told, refreshments were served, and the "actors" (our loved ones) returned to their lonesome, seemingly endless walk with Alzheimer's or other mind-robbing ailments. But... the nursing home staff had an eye-opener about their patients which forever changed their outlook on how they dealt with them on a daily basis. These weren't just hollow-eyed people with diapers to be changed, another distress light to be answered, or someone who needed their medication. These are real people with souls crying out for help in the jungle of their individual desperations...."

I just have a feeling those like your Aunt Birdie and my Connie would have found a million things to chatter about at that make-believe party. I can still hear my Connie's infectious laugh and her special smell of cologne. She loved parties!

Maybe someday I will write that story.

In the meantime, please know that I share in your loss.

Your friend in Christ, Chuck Hinman

Orphaned at pre-school-age with siblings Louise and Bill, the little flock was raised by maternal grandparents (Stewart) in Cleveland, Oklahoma. Connie gave her sister Louise credit for fighting tenaciously to keep the little kids from being split-up. Connie put herself through Central State College at Edmond, Oklahoma, graduating with honor. She had a short career as an English and commercial arts teacher in Dover and Marlowe, Oklahoma, high schools. She then began a second career as an executive secretary at Phillips Petroleum Company in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. (Barton Witchell) When Connie and I started our family in 1958, Connie became a full-tine mother and home-executive. She was a long-time Bible teacher and scholar. She was an avid radio listener preferring "her" radio preachers and the Kitchen Klatter home-makers programs. Connie was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1987. It was fast-moving and had destroyed 100 percent of her cognitive function. She passed away in 2002 still exhibiting the style and grace with which she was forever blessed. I was privileged to share her beautiful life for over 50 years.

- Chuck Hinman

This story was posted on 2012-05-13 03:50:45
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