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Love and Alzheimer's Disease III

Jean at the summer partyOur annual neighborhood summer potluck party was held in early June this year. Jean now has little interest in preparing food for an event like this but welcomes the opportunity for her to engage in what she likes so much to do—socialize with other people. Late afternoon passed pleasantly enough into early evening and Jean was ready to go home after being at the party for about two hours.

The usual practice is for the people who prepared food to take home what is left, but since the party was still going strong when Jean and I left we took nothing with us. Later that evening one of organizers of the party came to bring Jean samples of food for her to enjoy the next day and to sit with her and chat. I was in the basement working when she arrived and came up sometime later to find Jean in serious conversation with this younger woman who was weeping quietly. She greeted me with a smile, dabbed tears from her eyes and said, "Jean has given me the grace I was looking for and needed so much". She thanked Jean warmly and departed, thanking Jean again.

The remarkable thing is that Jean has no memory of the content of the conversation. She only knows that this woman was anxious over something and that she, Jean, probably said something supportive. But just what that something was we may never know.

It seems that nothing, not even Alzheimer dementia, can suppress the Christian love for neighbor so deeply embedded in Jean. Whatever Jean said came from some deep source within her, an inexhaustible source of living water that Jesus promised the woman at the well in the gospel of John. A disease such as the dementia of Alzheimer type has the power to strip us of many things, but it has no power over the essential graces God gives us.

Robert Luchi