Students participating in Harvard’s Alzheimer’s Buddies program wrote letters to their buddies’ families describing what they’ve learned from the experience. Here are excerpts from some of their letters:
I saw photographs of a younger Edith for the first time this past Sunday. The photographs took my breath away at first sight, but I quickly realized that the young woman looking out at me from the frame — with her thick bob of lush, dark hair; big eyes lined just perfectly; and pressed, elegant dress — was not so far from my new friend. . . . From talking with my fellow student buddies, I have realized that every patient has some core quality that they cling to, that comes through in their interactions whether they realize it or not. This, to me, is the real beauty of human relationship — that it can bring out this “essence.”
I was greatly surprised and delighted by the realization that spending time with Beatrice has become remarkably therapeutic for me. For one hour each week, I have been able to set aside all the worries and responsibilities I usually carry around with me at school. As soon as I scoot my chair close to hers, we exist only for each other and time quietly loses meaning. Our conversation meanders, we laugh, we talk seriously, we remember together — and then all too soon, our time is up.
I am . . . so impressed by Oskar’s view on the world. He has told me on several occasions of his love of life. Even in the midst of having Alzheimer’s, having all of the aches and pains of a 99-year-old, and not being able to do all that he used to, he somehow still has this unquenchable thirst for life. This is an incredible inspiration for me.