Jo's Archive

Marion, Jo: “I remember you, Izzy.”

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

July 29, 2008 – Two stories from the edge of life:

  We went to see Marion this afternoon in the Alzheimer’s ward of the nursing home. She sat next to Izzy for an hour and talked to him, and told us of a terrible loss she suffered, and about her life on her farm, and her children, whom she loves so much and talks of constantly, and of the dogs she had. And she and Izzy have attached to one another in the way that certain dogs do with certain people, for all kinds of reasons we can’t see and quite understand.
 After awhile, I saw her telling stories to Izzy, and the smile in her face and her comfort were striking to see. We walked through the hallways, she in her wheelchair, me with the dog.
   “Izzy, you mean so much to me,” she said, back in her room. “I am a very old lady, and I forget things sometimes. But I never forget  you.” The nurse told me Marion asked several times when Izzy was coming today, and she was watching for us.
  She asked about me and my farm, and when we got up to leave she said, at first, “oh, I can’t bear for Izzy to go just yet,” and then caught herself, and said, “but he has to go, the dear thing. What a wonderful spirit he has, and what beautiful paws.”
  What a pleasure to know Marion.

  I had a date this afternoon, with an 75- year-old  woman named Jo, who has dementia. When Izzy and I came in, she turned to me, and said, “will you be my boyfriend?”
  I was a little startled, and people usually fuss over Izzy, not me, and I said, “well, I don’t know. How many boyfriends do you have?”  And she turned to her friend in the next wheelchair and nudged her and then turned back to me, and said, “hey, you’re cute. I like you.” And I don’t hear that all that often, and she said she was pretty forward, and so I agreed to be her boyfriend. And she asked me if I danced. And I said not much, not really.
  And then I had this feeling, and I said, “Jo, let’s dance.” And I sat down in the chair next to her, and I said let’s close our eyes, and we did, and we held hands, and I told her that we were dancing, in a big ballroom, with a big band, and that we were swirling around and around and around. And there was soft music, and happy couples were dancing all around us.
  And then she smiled, and squeezed my hand, and she and her friend laughed in mischievous delight at her wickedness, and she asked if I knew that her husband loved to dance, and they danced all the time, and he was coming to pick her up that afternoon and take her home.
  And when we got up to go, she turned to her friend, and said, “see, I have a boyfriend now and he dances.”