Of this our true individual life, our present life is a glimpse, a fragment, a hint, and in its best moments a visible beginning. — Josiah Royce (1855-1916), American philosopher
We visited a friend the other day. She has Alzheimer’s. I am ashamed that it took me many months to gather the courage to go. Very lame. But I finally went. It certainly helped to go with other family members. Now I know that it doesn’t matter how scared I am. It just matters that she feels loved and cared for.
On our way home, we all wondered, does someone with Alzheimer’s really not recognize people? Do they really not know what they want to say? Or do they know, deep inside, who you are and what they want to say, but simply cannot express themselves outwardly? At first, everything she said seemed bizarre. She stared away and showed no emotion. But as we sat and listened for a while, some of her still very fragmented statements started sounding familiar. It seemed like she was trying to tell us certain things but could not organize the words. It was if she were trapped in her own body, desperately trying to catch and toss to us the pieces flying about inside her heart and mind. A terrifying thought. It would be much easier to believe that she’s simply living in a happy fantasy land.
It seems like we are all slightly trapped at times. We have the input spinning around with our thoughts and emotions but sometimes find it difficult to express ourselves effectively. Or perhaps worse, we believe we are communicating clearly but those around us are wondering . . . Each of us is limited by our language, opinions, emotions and our bodies. Even with Google, how could any one of us understand everything? How amazing that we very often actually manage to say or do exactly as we intend. And when our words fumble or hurt, well, that’s when real friends love us anyway.
After visiting my friend I knew the perfect art project for this post. I save foil candy wrappers. Holidays are the best time to get different colors–I keep a special “wrapper basket” next to my candy dish. These tiny bits of color flying around (at my house they literally fly around), so often discarded, can be made into shiny paper mosaics. You can make paper ornaments, greeting cards, banners, fridge magnets, etc.
I made a couple of greeting cards. Please keep in mind I’m not nearly as talented as most kids!Directions: Coat your paper with glue and quickly press torn bits of wrappers onto the paper to make your picture. Then, if desired–while the glue is still sticky–sprinkle with glitter or sand. You could also do on cardboard, wood or whatever. If you’d prefer to go a little slower, you could glue your wrappers on the paper, then coat the glue around the wrappers for the glitter. I’m lazy so I do it the faster way. For greeting cards, try using sandwich-size zipper plastic bags for your envelopes. It’s a little kooky and will be much easier for the receiver to open the card without tearing the paper or causing too much glitter to fall off. I added stickers, and on the first card below I added a little bit of leftover Christmas garland.
Thank you friend for a perfect lesson in listening, patience and friendship. I will visit you again soon.
I’ll catch your fragments.
I will paste them into my
own fine mosaic.