From Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul Second Dose


The wheelchair dwarfed her tiny body as she sat quietly hugging the teddy bear in her lap. Even though her hair was pulled back, soft wisps of rogue curls framed her face. All dressed in pink, Katie was the picture of sweetness.

It was obvious that Katie was a favorite among the nurses as gentle love pats were given each time they passed her chair. But even with the touches of love, she simply sat with her eyes focused on the floor.Well into her nineties, Katie was afflicted with Alzheimer’s.

Sadly, Katie wasn’t the only one in the room who was lost in her own world. There were fifteen others in varying degrees of dementia who had joined her in the activities room of the nursing home. And, for the next hour, this little group would be my “audience.”

As a part of my Touch of Love ministry, I have the privilege of taking my little “sidekick” (dummy), Ezra, for visits in nursing homes, hospitals, and places of special needs. He sits on my lap and with the trickery of ventriloquism, he can say the darnedest things.

The scene was all too familiar . . . wheelchairs, walkers, blank faces, and weary bodies. But what was also familiar was the evidence of loving care given by the nurses and staff. I’d come to the conclusion that “TLC” is a universal, inborn quality in caregivers to the elderly.

As Ezra and I moved from wheelchair to wheelchair, the mood in the room changed. Not only were there sounds of laughter coming from the patients, but they were coming from the nurses as well as they witnessed the delight in the responses to Ezra. It seemed that everyone in the room was connecting with the fun—except for Katie.

She simply sat. Her eyes focused on the floor.

Having started on the opposite side of the room, we reached Katie’s wheelchair. Kneeling in front of her, with Ezra at her eye level, Ezra said, “Hello, Katie. I love you!”

She lifted her sky blue eyes and said, “I love you too!”

It was breathtaking to watch the transformation in Katie’s face as she broke into the most delightful toothless smile. And the “conversation” between Ezra and Katie? It was actually quite comical. The topics changed with every other sentence, and Ezra was having a hard time keeping up! It was obvious that in her younger days, Katie had a wonderful sense of humor, on full display here.

At first, because I was so focused on Ezra and Katie, I was unaware of the commotion happening behind her. But, gradually, I realized that something was going on. The nurses and staff were hugging one another . . . actually jumping up and down. They were laughing and crying at the same time, beckoning to others in the hallway. I wondered, What good news have they just received?

It wasn’t until I had finished the visit that I learned the “good news” . . . it was Katie. That was the first time that any of them had heard her speak.

“Ezra may be a dummy, but he has accomplished something we haven’t been able to in three years!”

Gail Wenos

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