You have to take care of your sister.

I was doing a therapeutic recreation program today in the Dementia Unit and a resident asked how tall I was. I said 5’11. “I am going to call you Slim.”

He had unruly hair, was seated in a wheelchair and seemed a bit restless. It is curious that he did not seem to recall anything about recent times but he told me this story from 4 decades ago.

“You know, when I was 40, my father was dying. I was saying goodbye to him and he told me I had to take care of my sister. She was a nun. She’s been living ‘out in the woods’ for 20 years – but he really didn’t mean that she lived in the forest. He meant that she was not in the “real world” because she lived in a convent and he thought she was out of touch with the real world.”

Joe started sobbing. He was 80-years-old.

“I tried to take care of her. I can still hear my father’s voice – it was so firm and commanding. I really did the best that I could for my father. His name was Jim. I hope I didn’t disappoint him. He told me that my sister needed me. I tried to keep my promise. I am no saint. My dad’s voice was always so emphatic – Joe, you always have to take care of your sister.”

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