Sunday, July 26, 2009

Babies and The Elderly

Babies are loved by many, but nobody loves a good baby more than the elderly.

My best friend's father has dementia. Before he got sick, George always loved babies. I am happy to report that despite his illness, George's love for babies has remained intact.

Yesterday, my son and I went to visit my best friend and George in their apartment. It was difficult to carry on a conversation with George because he was staring into space the majority of the time. Then I had an idea.

For months now, OK, a notorious tabloid magazine, has been sending my best friend their periodical despite her efforts to thwart them. To show my support for their demise, I begin ripping pages from OK one by one and handing them to George. Then I threw them up into the air and screamed. This excited both George and my son who began to laugh. Babies and the elderly share joy in the simpler things.

Frequently during the day, George sat in a chair and stared off into space. At one point he began to cry spontaneously. My best friend comforted him, and assured him that he was crying because he was confused and could not communicate what he was wanted to say. I wanted to help too but felt ill equipped to do so. But then I remembered, I had a baby with me! So I picked up my son and put him in George's face. He began to laugh once again.

There is something inherently funny about babies. They are not only cute, but they do weird and quirky things like read books upside down, eat paper towels or babble in their own alien language. They are just discovering the world; whereas the elderly have already been living in the world for sometime. Babies remind the elderly of a simpler, stranger more entertaining time, when one is just getting used to themselves, their body, learning to walk and talk and just be.

George loved watching my son do weird things all day. Conversely, my son enjoyed engaging in strange activities; like holding a green marker in one hand and a blue one in the other and drawing on both paper and himself. His hands are still a hybrid of green and blue.

When my son is older I will show these pictures to him and share the stories of the funny things he did to brighten George's days.

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