Dear David – Your act of kindness yesterday left what will be an everlasting imprint in my memory. If not for her Alzheimer’s, you would’ve stamped Mom’s memory too.
We were leaving her neurologist’s office when Mom mentioned to me that she’d like some new everyday shoes. All things considered, Mom’s been doing really well lately and today was no different. So we went for it.
Ro Needs A New Pair of Shoes
I thought only for a brief moment about where to go before your store popped top of mind. Mom always took me there as a kid. While we were en route, I was slightly nervous about how it would go but was confident we’d find something that would make Mom happy (and comfortable). Little did I know what a bonus your act of kindness would be.
Out you came from the stock room with a warm and professional welcome shortly after we entered the store, by which time I was already rethinking my decision to take this on. Mom had already taken 5 pair of shoes off the stands and dropped them on the floor, as I scurried behind her picking them up and putting them back–while pointing out styles I thought she might like.
Your patience were clear from the start but your true act of kindness and compassion came when we sat down to try on some (7!) options. Instead of getting irritated or thinking about the next customer while Mom was struggling to follow your instructions to get her feet accurately measured, you were gracious.
Put at ease
Not able to help myself and thinking I was providing proactive cover for Mom, I discreetly mentioned to you that Mom is living with Alzheimer’s, has trouble remembering things, focusing, and is easily confused.
Your words in response told me that you understood but the look in your eyes told me what I wanted and needed to know. You understood and showed nothing but compassion. The best part though, and your true act of kindness, would come again and again throughout the rest of our lengthy visit.
It was subtle, simple, and rife with humility. You treated Mom like a person, not a patient. My tank of patience was on empty but yours seemed full as our visit passed the 90 (yes, 90!) minute mark. You asked her about herself, you joked, you laughed at her jokes and were present at every stage of our stay.
Act of kindness
When Mom asked to try on the same pair of shoes for a 4th time, you weren’t frustrated (outwardly anyway). As Mom grabbed the pair of blue clogs and gazed at them curiously for the 12th time, you weren’t irritated. The 6th time you had to explain why the pink ballet flat without stretch wouldn’t be a good fit for her didn’t seem to bother you a bit.
I was crawling out of my skin while you were wire-to-wire smiles and conversation. Person to person instead of person to patient. I don’t know you other than our nearly 2 hours together yesterday. Still, I suspect this was just you….being you. You’d probably laugh if you saw this and I’d even bet you don’t think of your behavior as an act of kindness.
But it was an act of kindness to Mom and to me too. She won’t remember because of her Alzheimer’s–but I won’t forget. And I won’t stop hoping that you (and all the other David’s out there) get your kindness paid back to you by the world.
For Mom, as a person living with Alzheimer’s (or any other form of dementia for that matter), it’s hard to coexist with the real world most of the time. But it wasn’t with you yesterday. You made it easy.
Your expertise sold us shoes that make Mom happy and comfortable. Your act of kindness gave us hope and restored some of my faith in humanity. I hope the 16M other people in the U.S. caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia have a David in their life like we did yesterday.
Thank you for your simple act of kindness. I’ll do my best to pay it forward.
A son of Alzheimer’s and a Cape Cod Shoe Market Customer For Life
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