‘There is so much good in this world, and it starts with simple acts of kindness,’ writes Julie, who moved in with her father when his dementia began to worsen. Amidst the sadness and pain, she decided to look for joy and peace in little things, and the moments that would light up her dad’s eyes.

One of these was the passing weekly visit of Harold, their garbageman. “He knows my dad has Alzheimer’s and says hi to him every week and asks how he is doing,” writes Julie.

And one morning, when Harold was due on his round, her dad asked her to take a chair out to the pavement so he could talk to him.  She stood with him until Harold arrived. Soon after, she noticed her dad in tears:

“Dad starts crying and asks for me to walk away. I ask why, and he says, ‘Harold is a good man. He is religious, and I want to pray with him for you.’  It breaks my heart, I had to walk away.”

She said, “I remember thinking to myself as I was walking back to the porch that no matter what disease my father has, it will never take away his love for me. I’m trying everything in my power to stop the tears and gain my composure. Then I look back and see Harold on his knees next to my father sitting in the chair, and there was no stopping the crying at this point.”

What amazed Jullie most was seeing someone who was practically a stranger have such patience and compassion for her ailing father:  “Although we have had Harold as our garbage man for many, many years, he truly doesn’t know us. He knows my father has Alzheimer’s and knows we are friendly people that talk to him weekly, but he doesn’t know us. This stranger is on his knees praying with my father for me.’

She took a picture to capture this simple act of kindness. ‘Harold has touched my heart and I knew I had to share this with friends and family on Facebook. There is so much good in this world, and it starts with simple acts of kindness. Harold, thank you for your kindness and prayers. I will never forget this moment.”

*******

In a week when a national newspaper has published a double page spread exposing cruel treatment of people with dementia in some of Britain’s care homes Julie’s story highlights how important a single, human interaction can be.   One person can make a difference.  It’s an opportunity for Christians in churches that are near care homes – they can visit; befriend, take services and encourage.  Their presence can be a signal to carers that someone is taking notice … that there are people who care, as well as residents’ relatives.  Also, wherever there is poor care, it can be reported to the local Care Quality Commission through its website.

Harold made a difference to Julie’s Dad, and to Julie’s life.  We can do the same for others.

 

Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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