Missed Part. 1? Read it here.
Ah – yes. I remember this phase of my late grandmother’s life as the early stages of what would become full blown Alzheimer’s slowly took over. She would answer the phone and forget what she was doing on the way to tell my Grandfather he had a call. She would ask the same questions every couple of minutes. She, too, had remained sweet and polite. My heart hurt for Doreen’s family.
Exiting the train we were, once again, presented with several choices only one combination of which would get us to baggage claim. Doreen and I kept a nice pace and within a few minutes were standing by the turning luggage.
“What does your bag look like?” I queried.
“It has a pink ribbon on it and it’s black,” Doreen informed me.
While we watched the bags, we shared some small talk and I learned that Doreen had grown up in Chicago, had ‘two or three’ children and loved growing roses. In a few minutes her bag came around and I grabbed it and set it next to her, looking up hopefully that Jackie would be right there.
Doreen, sensing my question, asked me again, “How do you know Jackie?”
“I have not met her before, but your sister at O’Hare told me she was meeting you here. Did someone give you a piece of paper with a number on it?”
I imagined my grandmother’s purse and thought about its contents.
“Do you keep a little phone book in your purse?” I asked hopefully.
“Yes, but I don’t have Jackie’s number. No one gave it to me.”
“That’s ok,” I offered. “What about” – and now I was completely winging it “Jackie’s husband. Do you have his number?”
“Yes!” Doreen exclaimed, clearly pleased with herself. “I have his number right here. I did not know you knew David.”
I pulled out my mobile and called ‘David’ and was not at all surprised when, a voice I assumed was Jackie’s, answered with, “Do you have my Aunt Doreen?”
“I sure do. We are at baggage claim by Area 3 and she just got her bag.”
Jackie was clearly flustered and I tried to calm her down by saying that I would stay here until she arrived and not to worry.
“I don’t know how my Mom thought she was supposed to get down here without any help,” she complained.
“It’s all good. We’ve had a lovely conversation and I now know all about your family and that Doreen is a White Sox fan.”
“White Sox?!” exclaimed Jackie. “Did she really say that? She is a Cubs fan!”
“I know, I’m just teasing, because she told me you all are pretty nuts about the Cubs.”
Jackie laughed and I looked up having heard the laugh both on the phone and in the vicinity. We made eye contact and I did that weird thing where you are trying to continue a conversation with someone on a mobile as they are approaching you but still too far away to hear you so I sort of shouted as I let me phone hang at my side. “Here we are.”
Jackie and Doreen hugged and thanked me profusely. I had enjoyed the opportunity to do a good deed and had been reminded how important it is to live every moment – a disease like Alzheimer’s could be lurking. We parted and I let the mixed feeling of appreciation and sadness sit with me for a moment as I headed towards ground transportation.
I had a very full 24 hours of work to do but my experience with Doreen had heightened my awareness of the speed with which time progresses. After a late night meeting I set my alarm for a terribly early hour, knowing that if I got up before the sun I could run towards Arlington National Cemetery and make a loop through many of the monuments. I wanted to take advantage of how close I was to so much history and show appreciation for the sacrifices made by our service men and women. Can you believe the gift that greeted me as I ran to the Iwo Jima memorial as the sun rose?
– Becky Sharpe, President & CEO