Journal of Gerontological Nursing

Endnotes: Agnes

Rita Bergevin, MA, RN

Abstract

Agnes is now in the late phase of Alzheimer's disease. She has been a resident of the nursing facility for the past 6 months, during which time her condition has deteriorated steadily. She is nearly bed bound now and requires complete care. Yet only a few months ago, she and her husband were able to say their daily prayers together during his visits. He, seated directly in front of her, would comb her hair and straighten her gown. Then, taking her hands in his, they would bow their heads simultaneously, nearly touching, in silent prayer. After a few moments, he would kiss her forehead gently and speak to her about little things, going off into their past and excluding the entire world from their little circle.

Then her world became more distant. Her daughter would come and sit beside her and speak of something they had shared not so very long ago, perhaps hoping that Agnes's mothering faculties would emerge and she would acknowledge the bond between them. Yet there was very little response.

Only a year ago, mother and daughter had taken a summer trip to a familiar resort. They stayed in their favorite room, its terrace overlooking the harbor. She spoke to Agnes about that wonderful afternoon when, after a light rain, there appeared the loveliest rainbow she had ever seen, colors that mingled with the sunlight emerging from the clouds. For a brief moment, Agnes' eyes were filled with that incandescent light. Her hands folded and unfolded. She seemed about to remember something, and her eyes were penetrating, with just a little curl of a smile, and then it was over. The light seemed to fade, leaving Agnes in her darkness again.

Yet her daughter still remembered what her mother had once said to her when she was a child. A rainbow is a promise. It begins someplace we know not where and ends in a faraway land. Its beauty is unique and is appreciated only by that certain someone for whom a covenant has promised deliverance. Somehow it resembles a heart that cares, and as Agnes had always said, though it fades into transparency, its memory reverberates for as long as the daylight lingers.

Name has been changed for purposes of anonymity.…

Agnes is now in the late phase of Alzheimer's disease. She has been a resident of the nursing facility for the past 6 months, during which time her condition has deteriorated steadily. She is nearly bed bound now and requires complete care. Yet only a few months ago, she and her husband were able to say their daily prayers together during his visits. He, seated directly in front of her, would comb her hair and straighten her gown. Then, taking her hands in his, they would bow their heads simultaneously, nearly touching, in silent prayer. After a few moments, he would kiss her forehead gently and speak to her about little things, going off into their past and excluding the entire world from their little circle.

Then her world became more distant. Her daughter would come and sit beside her and speak of something they had shared not so very long ago, perhaps hoping that Agnes's mothering faculties would emerge and she would acknowledge the bond between them. Yet there was very little response.

Only a year ago, mother and daughter had taken a summer trip to a familiar resort. They stayed in their favorite room, its terrace overlooking the harbor. She spoke to Agnes about that wonderful afternoon when, after a light rain, there appeared the loveliest rainbow she had ever seen, colors that mingled with the sunlight emerging from the clouds. For a brief moment, Agnes' eyes were filled with that incandescent light. Her hands folded and unfolded. She seemed about to remember something, and her eyes were penetrating, with just a little curl of a smile, and then it was over. The light seemed to fade, leaving Agnes in her darkness again.

Yet her daughter still remembered what her mother had once said to her when she was a child. A rainbow is a promise. It begins someplace we know not where and ends in a faraway land. Its beauty is unique and is appreciated only by that certain someone for whom a covenant has promised deliverance. Somehow it resembles a heart that cares, and as Agnes had always said, though it fades into transparency, its memory reverberates for as long as the daylight lingers.

Name has been changed for purposes of anonymity.

10.3928/0098-9134-19991101-15

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