Harvard College Alzheimer's Buddies visits started up for the summer, and today I had the opportunity to see Pearl for the first time since the summer began. What a change this has been from the snow greeting me when I first blogged about my visits starting last semester!
Walking into the building and floor in which I normally see Pearl, I was taken by surprise. Nobody was there since it seemed that renovation was occurring. I was taken aback and wondered where Pearl went. After asking around, I finally managed to find her, not in the dining hall, but her room. She was so pleased to see me, and I was relieved and grateful that she remembered me.
When she asked me how long I would be staying, her face fell as I told her I would stay for an hour while promising her that I would return next week. Her reaction really made me consider how much it means for the buddies for their students to come visit them in the summer where the weather outside is nice, but it can be lonely without visitors.
During this visit, Pearl and I looked through photographs that were near her windowsill filled with her children and grandchildren. Pearl’s memory has been relatively stable; however, she still identified her son as her husband (a similar occurrence occurred during a previous visit).
Later, she started to get frustrated and wanted to get out of bed - understandable given how long she’s been lying there. However, the nurses were busy, so I played some piano music for her instead. Through talking to her, Pearl is hard of hearing, but she did seem to enjoy the piano music!
When I last discussed Pearl, it was her birthday. Coincidentally, today is mine. I’m so glad to be able to spend time with Pearl today. I turn 20, and there is so much to learn from Pearl both because she is 102 and because she’s a truly extraordinary lady.
- Ellen Zhang