“Sing me a story and I’ll sing one back to you.” My aunt Catherine often said that to me. I spent summers with her and my grandmother as a child. My aunt had dementia from an early age. It was obviously not Alzheimer’s as she lived to 85. As she aged, her stories became more colorful, stranger and more humorous and I would often encourage her to share a story and a song.
Aunt Catherine, who preferred to be called Aunt Kitty, always had a fresh flower in her hair. In spending time with her I learned how to look at a flower with awe, to listen carefully to the music in nature and to find the story hidden in a sigh. Aunt Kitty was one of the happiest people I’ve ever known. She also had a most tender heart.
She was included in all of the family events yet she was always “the odd man out”. She was often ignored, but never forgotten. Tolerated, but always loved. Somehow I was always drawn to her. She seemed interested, even fascinated with whatever I had to say. There was always a give and take. I gave her my love and respect and she gave it back to me tenfold.
Becoming the Executive Director of The Greens at Greenwich has been serendipitous. I am surrounded by tender hearts, in staff and residents alike. Joy is easily encountered and compassion abounds. I am invested in honoring lives and embracing as well as creating family. I believe in the soul and spirit of every human being and look to engage it every day. Aunt Kitty taught me well and I still have many more lessons to learn from the sages who surround me.