For me, the Alzheimer's Buddies program has been one of the many unanticipated opportunities since coming to college for me to positively influence the people around me and, in turn, be positively impacted by those people as well. As a freshman, it's easy to get stuck in your own "little bubble" of life and not give a thought to the community just outside your campus's borders. But with Alzheimer's Buddies, I've been able to reach outside of my "bubble" of comfort and form real relationships with the elders of the community I am now emerged in.
My buddy Alice and I usually just sit and talk about the day and how she is feeling, and sometimes the conversation is able to turn towards some of Alice's past experiences. Sometimes she remembers her children's names, something funny they used to do, or sometimes she'll remember her husband who "loved her dearly and treated her like a princess". It's times like this, when the beautiful, kind, and loving soul of Alice breaks through the surface and her eyes light up with memories of her life and loved ones, that I look forward to every Sunday. These moments are also precisely the reason why I think Alzheimer's buddies was formed in the first place. Having the opportunity to peek through those little "windows of reality" that sometimes emerge in Alice during our visits, revealing precious memories that manage to push their way through, in spite of the terrible disease that is always trying to drown them out, is an extremely humbling experience.
Alice has taught me to never take anything in life for granted, no matter how insignificant the "little joys" in life may seem, because you never know when they will slowly slip away. Even if she may never remember our hours spent together, my Sundays with Alice are times that I will always hold on to.
- Hannah Bourk, Gordon College