The first time I met her she was in mourning. Her husband was in the process of dying from cancer and had only days left to live. My friend, Angel, took me with her to Judy’s house to offer her our support and let her know we are there for her.
Less than a week later, she was a widow.
After many years of marriage and living with a husband that took care of her and all the finances, she was completely lost in the world of independence. Fortunately for Judy, she lives in a home close to her daughter and son-in-law’s and they watch out for her safety.
Her small frame and platinum-silver hair stand out, along with her bright green eyes and warm, beautiful smile.
Judy is in her seventies and in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Anyone that has been around a person with this debilitating disease knows that it takes the patience of a saint to be around them for any length of time.
When I ask her her age, she answers,”I think I am in my forties, but I forget. I’m such an airhead!”
Our friendship has developed during this past year and she and I have become fast friends. She is thrilled over our friendship and is always calling me her, “bestest friend in the world.” However, I assure you, it is I that have found a friendship treasure.
We go out to lunch together, to dinners together and shopping together. She tells me frequently how much she thoroughly enjoys our outings. I tell her how much I enjoy her warm and caring friendship. However, it is at times very trying because she often forgets from one moment to the next, repeats herself often, and continually asks the same questions.
She often tells me stories (which I have probably heard a hundred times) and then forgets parts as she is telling it (again). I will laugh and say, “Judy, I believe I know your story better than you!” And she laughs.
Many times she is late for our lunch date. Many times she has to call at the last minute to cancel because she is feeling dizzy. And, many times she has lost her phone and it concerns me when I cannot get a hold of her.
I know without a doubt that her favorite colors are shades of turquoise blue and different shades of pink. I know this because I took her shopping for some new tennis shoes and she “had” to get them in blue, telling me and the salesman several times it was her favorite color. The next day, she had me take her back to get a pair in pink, (by the way, again, her favorite color).
I am describing a terrible and heartbreaking disease as much as I am describing my beautiful friend.
There are some days I feel like I am friends with a three year old, and other days that I feel I am friends with an adult who has slight memory problems. Sadly, the three year old is coming out more often these days and I know our friendship is becoming more dear because it is becoming shorter.
One of these days she will not know me anymore. She will have forgotten about our special outings and about our sweet friendship. On that day I will have to let her go to where ever it is that her mind has taken her, be grateful for the small amount of time we had together and cherish our friendship, no matter how brief it was.
I have found, through Judy, that we find ourselves more through the imperfections of others than through their perfections. Accepting those imperfections encourage us to see and accept our own, giving us the remarkable opportunity to love and accept each other anyway.