About a year and a half ago, when Leo, and Damian, first went into Morningside, I would take them out to lunch once a week. They both enjoyed it; the time spent with them was very pleasant and happy. They liked to go and get hamburgers, or perhaps a hotdog, and afterwards go over to Dairy Queen for some ice cream. They loved the ice cream Sundays with lots of syrup on it. This went one for a few weeks, but I had to stop since the director of Morningside told me that Damian would come back agitated, and would want to go out again. Since they both spent a lot of time together; their rooms were next to each other, the trips had to stop; couldn’t just go in and take Leo, and leave Damian behind. So when the time came for a visit, I just stayed there, and talked and joked with them. Damian loved to joke, and Leo is a very good listener, so they made a good pair.
Now that Damian is gone, it seemed a good idea to start taking Leo out once a week again. He became excited when we stepped out onto the parking lot and started to laugh, saying it has been a long time since he was outside. We went to the Bugaboo steak house near the Mall, went early before it got crowded. Got him some chicken strips, French fries and some ice tea. He can easily eat those items, sometimes he has trouble knowing how to eat certain foods, but he did fine with his meal. Afterward he had two scoops of ice cream. He loved it; liked the music, the waitress made a fuss over him, called him honey, which made him laugh; he laughs easily.
I wanted to take him for a walk. The horse park was one place I thought he would like to go, but when we discussed it after a fashion, he stated that he wanted to walk thru the mall. So off we went. He does not remember anything about the area, so each trip is a new adventure for him. Took him to a pet store, he became enamored with an African Grey parrot, and spent some time making soothing noises at it. Loved the water fountains and kept remarking how big the mall is. After a while he began showing signs of fatigue, so I took him back to Morningside, and was happy to see that he was glad to get back. I took him back to his room, hugged him, and he laid down for a nap.
I am very happy that he likes it there, the staff is made up of some terrific people, and they spend a lot of time with him. Leo likes to be read to, and also prayed with, which some on the staff have told me they like to do with him. One of the ministers from hospice that goes there has learned to say the Hail Mary with him, which being Catholic is firmly embedded in his long term memory, and even if he at times cannot say it with her, knows it in his head and can follow along.
Odd about Leo, look at him one way and he seems not to be there, but listen and look into his eyes, and he is there looking out trying to communicate. Yes he is like a child, but the man is also there, his complexity has not gone or diminished, it is just expressed in different ways.