Katherine lives in a community dedicated to the care of those with Alzheimer's. During the time I have known her, I have seen her go through many moods. Most of the time, she is warm and welcoming, but I have also walked into the room to see her really angry. I have also had her hold my face between her hands as she wept when I gave her a birthday gift of a lap quilt that was quilted for and donated to the ministry. However, as I think about her, I realize I have never seen her timid. She is willing to live, both in the good days, and through the difficult ones.
Today, as we were saying good-bye, she reached out to hug me as she always does and asked when we will return. Sitting with the other residents, she then added, "Please tell everyone that we say hello." The statement, that comes so easily to most of us, took on new life for me. She then looked me in the eyes, took my hand, and repeated the request, word for word. "Katherine, I will." She thanked me and told me that she loved me.
As I walked to my car, I thought of Katherine's charge. Of letting people know that there are people tucked away in a variety of communities who want to reach out and say hello. Who are part of us so they are whole. Who readily share their moods and their love. And who often really do know their real names.
I start with you. Come say hello when you can. Don't worry if you feel confused. You are loved.