Our mensch-y friend

A mensch, as anyone raised in a Jewish household with Yiddish literacy knows, is a good person. One who always does the right thing, who has integrity and honor.


This describes our friend, T. T had met J a few times before we knew J had Alzheimer’s disease, but they weren’t close. And yet, year in and year out, T continues to visit J regularly.

Even though T doesn’t experience the loss that those who knew J well do, it still can’t be easy. J’s cognition has deteriorated precipitously since T met her. I expect she goes because that is the right thing to do. T knows that by the time she gets to her car, J won’t remember she was there. Yet the time she spent will be a highlight of J’s day, and J will retain the feeling of being cared for.

So I give T my mother’s highest praise: “You are a mensch.”

Here is T’s report from a recent visit.

Hi A,

I went to see J today and I think it went really well!

I can’t remember if I always wore a name tag, but today I did.  I found J walking with a guy and went to greet her.  I don’t know if you know who he is, but his name is P.  He asked me my name and then sort of pushed away my jacket so he could see it and then read it.  J said, “I know,” which I took to mean that name and seeing me meant something to her. Who knows?

He told me his first name was asshole and his last name was something like fuck you.  He told me this totally matter-of -fact, not angry or anything.  I told him that was an unusual name.  Then he told me his other name.

Anyhow, we walked down the hallway — the three of us — till we got to the porch.  We looked out at the snow and trees and both seemed to enjoy looking out. P was able to say a few words, and as you know, J really pretty much can’t.  But she was taking it all in.  We stayed there for awhile enjoying the views and then walked back into the hallway.

P sort of drifted off somewhere and J and I continued to walk down the hallway.  I usually take her hand and she seems to like that.  We basically walked up and back 6 or so times, outside to the porch, looked at the view, saw a very small car ( one of the highlights), back inside.  She reached her hand out to me several times and seemed to like that. After awhile, I told her I had to leave.  We have a nice big hug and she said, ” the best.”

So that’s the news from my front.  Hope all is well. Look forward to seeing you guys soon. xo T

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