To listen to this post, please click here: Tapping Power
Last week this yellow waterlily opened up a world.
I went to California to visit my sister Mary Kay in her excellent Memory Care Unit. Spending time with an Alzheimer’s patient will challenge your habits. The two pillars of ordinary conversation—what has been and what is coming–are essentially meaningless.
Of course it’s our cultural expectations that are limited, not the person. So much capacity remains: to experience, to feel, to laugh, to enjoy the familiar. But side by side in the present you must remain. What can we share?
As we smiled together over lunch, I remembered I had some family pictures on my iPad, so I pulled it out. Kako loved the familiar nameless faces and enjoyed looking at my landscape and flower photos.
Then I opened my wonderful Poetry Foundation app and read her some funny old rhythm and rhyme pieces—James Whitcomb Riley, Edward Lear. She was especially delighted with “Casey At The Bat. “
As I went from photo to photo and app to app, I swung the iPad away from her, concerned that the zaps and zooms might disturb her.
But when I opened up MonetHD and gently slid from painting to painting, she reached out and double-tapped that yellow waterlily. It of course instantly enlarged, which tickled her. She tapped the blossom in and out and soon discovered that she could change the pictures herself with a slide of her finger.
“Would you like to make some art of your own?” I opened up a sketching app and we made some abstract pictures together. After that, Tengami, a beautiful meditative Japanese game. She loved making the little explorer move back and forth in his peaceful luminous world.
“ I like this,” she said. “It takes me out of myself.”
By the time I left, we had spent three hours together, the longest visit we have had in many years, all because we’d found a way into her almost vanished world of volition. The staff was happy to hear it and will now assist her with an iPad every day, taking her out of herself and into her power.
Technology itself is not the answer. Presence is. But I do offer gratitude for this varied, entertaining means of sharing it.