Kathleen, Mom and Phyllis

Visiting Supported Living at Horizon House is bittersweet these days.  So many of my adopted mothers have passed.  Evelyn, Ruby, Flora, Kathleen, and most recently Gloria and Janet.  But hanging in there is Phyllis, Mom’s neighbor and along with Kathleen, part of Mom’s posse.

When I visited I would find the three of them together.  They would stride along with me, sure that something interesting was just around the corner.  It was the beginning of my realization that people living with dementia weren’t living in isolation but were part of a nurturing community.

Mom, Kathleen, Flora and Phyllis

Phyllis never spoke. She smiled and chuckled and cooed and sometimes it seemed as if she was trying to speak.   I never hear her voice until one day, when Mom and I were singing, she joined in.  What a lovely voice.  As we continued to sing, she began to dance, swaying to the melody and holding out her arms.   We danced and sang together.  Mom watched us with a big smile.

From then on I greeted her with a song.  Usually she just smiled but if I kept singing, she would be right there with me.

Phyllis was also a member of the art class and she had a definite style.

This is her painting of a vase of pink tulips.

or these cloths

or a cluster of ribbons

Once and once only did that change.  The model on the table was a lighted candle.

Ah silent Phyllis…she shimmers in song and light.