Back in Nov. 2005 Larry and our neighbor Steve lost a very close fishing buddy (Jeff) due to cancer. I do remember Jeff so well as he was so easy to talk to, had a big beautiful smile and was such a friendly guy. I think the last time I seen him he was over walking his dog around our property. If I remember right, I ran into him in the driveway walking back from Melody Gardens Care Home, this must of been just before I opened Melody Gardens or just after that home was up and running. Years ago (I cant really recall if this was before 2005 or after) when Larry and I had stopped over Steves house to visit (he lives just next door at the end of our driveway) Steve gave me a leaf pin that was carved out of wood. He said his buddy’s dad had carved it and he wanted me to have one of them. I thought that was so sweet that he wanted me to have it and when I got home I put it in my jewelry box.
Now fast forward to March 10, 2012. We have a new friend moving in at Melody Gardens Care Home. Her son and his wife were at the home waiting for her to arrive as she pulled in with her two daughters and her belongings. This type of transition is not only difficult, but emotional and intense. We focus the first day of transition on just making our new friend comfortable. No one can really understand the devastation such a disease can take on a family that is walking through this journey with a parent unless they have gone down this path themselves. This new friend had end stage Alzheimer’s and was able to get around very well but unfortunately the devastating disease had really made life confusing for her. Often she would forget where she was at and wonder why she was with us and where did her family go. At Melody Gardens we all worked well together to share ideas that worked and ways to calm her when she would get really anxious. It is such a sad disease and often so difficult to explain. As the months went on I do believe the family really appreciated us and how we were handling all the challenges this disease had shown through their mother. Our new friend had a very attentive family that would visit often and it always touched me how well they interacted with their mother in this phase of her disease. It was very obvious they had seeked out resources during the course of this journey as there are so many dos and donts when communicating and caring for someone with this dementia. Five months after our new friend moved in at Melody Gardens I was sitting in my office when my staff called and told me our friend was extremely anxious. Looking for ideas I called Larry and asked if he would take her for a golf cart ride around the property. So thankful that he really enjoys doing this kind of thing as he always loves showing off his flowers around the pond. In the golf cart they stop by my office door (that is the picture above). If was obvious she was much calmer and was enjoying the ride. Larry told me they were going to head back and about 20 minutes later my phone rang. When I answered it was Larry and by the tone of his voice I knew something was up “You are not going to believe this” he said. As Larry was taking our friend back down to Melody Gardens he heard our neighbor Steve in his pole barn starting up his motorcycle. Larry asked our friend if she liked motorcycles and she said she did so Larry pulled the golf cart over so she could watch Steve take off on his motorcycle. As Steve pulled out of his pole barn and seen Larry and our friend sitting on the golf cart he immediately took off his helmet and came over to hug our friend. Surprised Larry asked “Wow, do you know her?” and Steves reply was “Larry this is Jeffs mother !!!!!!”. I am not positive but I am sure some tears were dropped at that moment. As soon as Larry took our friend back to Melody Gardens he called me. I could not believe it. I immediately called the daughters. I knew that our friend had lost a son to cancer as I get all that information when I meet with the family before admission but I had no idea that her son that had passed away was Larry and Steves close buddy Jeff. As I am talking to one of the daughters on the phone (and we are both crying) it came to me that our friend has several of those wood carved leaves in her bedroom just like the one Steve gave me years ago. With the daughter still on the phone I leave my office and go upstairs to my bedroom and go to my jewelry box. I was holding that leaf in my hand when the daughter told me to look on the back ........ and there were her dads initials along with the year 2000 engraved on the back. I seriously get goose bumps when I think of this story ...... and when it happened I just imagined Jeff out there somewhere with that big beautiful smile on his face. Things do happen for a reason and I will be forever grateful that our paths crossed with this beautiful family.