They Are Only Mine For Awhile

Where is Golda?

“Golda doesn’t live here anymore.”

And with that I learned that I had lost another member of my congregation. Golda (name changed for obvious reasons) had lived in Arden Courts, an Alzheimer and dementia facility, for the last few years. Her family moved her sometime in the last week. Where? Why? I will never know.

I conduct a weekly Friday evening service at Arden Courts for the Jewish residents and their families. Attached is the article that ran in the Beachwood Buzz earlier this year. I named my group, my congregation, Am Shalom, The People of Peace, and created a service for them. The majority of my group have attended, week after week, since I began. They follow the service, participate as much as they can and tolerate my off-key singing. It is the rest, the ones who come and go, that get to me at times.

Arden Courts is a terrific Alzheimer facility, but it is still a facility. One of my congregants died. Some can’t sit still and comfortably participate in a 10 to 15 minute service. And a couple have relocated for some reason or another. But I have interacted with them. And I have watched them change as Alzheimer’s claims more and more of who they were and transforms them into a shell of their former selves. And against my better judgment, I have become attached. I celebrate those moments of clarity when one of my congregation is totally present. And I miss them when they are gone.

Golda had attended almost all of my services. Even on days when she was physically with us but her mind was clearly elsewhere, Golda usually had a moment or two of clarity. The fog would lift and she would knowingly laugh at herself and her fellow residents. I had special jokes in the service just for her.

So good luck Golda wherever you are. I hope that there is someone there to tell you a joke every time the fog lifts.