What 100-year-old Mary Helped Me Remember

Got to spend a few minutes this past weekend with some new friends at the Genesis Patapsco Valley Center – Dementia unit in suburban Baltimore.

Mavis is from Jamaica. Shirley likes numbers. Harriet was born in 1927. Larry served in the Navy. Miss Shapiro thought I looked like someone named Theo. And Mary recently celebrated her 100th birthday.

Even in a ninety-minute visit, it was obvious. Advancing fog and uncertainty. Once-vibrant souls, now confused and timid. And a near-total loss of what makes life, life.

But then there were other things. On greater display.

Eyes that absorbed attention.
The joy of conversation, however jumbled.
Barely moving lips singing Amazing Grace. But moving.
And as we got up to leave, more perceptible words. “Thank you.”

I needed the reminder.

Dimmed faculty never diminishes one’s humanity.
Worth isn’t transactional. It just is.
People matter.
And every one of us, regardless of our coherence, ability, prognosis, or lucidity are people made in the image of God.

May we commit ourselves today to treating those around us – all of them – as valuable.

Because they are.

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