You can’t always judge a book by its cover… or a person for that matter

Another real life encounter…

by Nancy Alexander


There is this woman at a local nursing home who pretty much keeps to herself.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen her smile.  Most often, she looks at you as if you’ve done something she doesn’t like and she is about to call you on it.  She has dementia, like many of the other residents.

Today I was asked to see her for physical therapy.  I didn’t recognize the name on my list.  As soon as I walked to her room I realized who I was to see.  Hmmm, this might be interesting.

When I entered her room, she was sitting in her wheelchair holding a soft-cover book.  “Good morning,” I said as I looked her in the eye and smiled.  “How are you today?”  “I’m fine.  Who are you?” she responded.  I scanned around her small half of the room to see books piled high on two small tables and at the end of her bed.  She literally was surrounded by books.  “My name is Nancy and I would like to do some exercises with you,” I responded.

“Oh no, not today.  Can’t you see I’m busy?!”  “I can see that,” I said.  She clutched the book in her hand a little harder.

“What book are you reading?”

“Oh… this?”

young girl

It was a small book with a young girl on the cover.  There was a bookmark about mid-way through it that looked to be hand-stitched.  As I looked more closely at the cover of the book, I saw something remarkable.  Her name was at the bottom.  I looked again and sure enough, she was the author.

“You wrote this book?”  I asked.

“Why yes I did,” she remarked.  “It’s just a book.  It’s not like one of those big ones over there.  This one’s small.”

“But it’s a book!  You wrote a book.”  The expression on her face was priceless.  Her mouth gaped opened slightly and her eyes widened as if to say, “I did… I did write this book.”

“When did you write it?” I asked.  She didn’t answer me but quickly thumbed through the first few pages.  Above the ISBN number was her copyright under her own name dated 2010.  It was published seven years ago.

She then told me some of her family history which she described in amazing detail.  “How can I remember these things?” she asked me.  Because it comes from the heart, I thought to myself.  That’s true.  But in addition, her book contains adventures of her family when they were young.  She is reminded of her family history every day she reads her book.

“What would you like me to do with you?”  she asked.  She proceeded to do everything I asked and she worked very hard at it.  “You need to keep moving,” I said to her.  “If you don’t move, you won’t move.”

“You’re right,” she said.

She took my hand at the end of our session, smiled and said, “Thank you.”

Oh no, I thought.  “Thank YOU,” I said.  Thank you for making this a most interesting and wonderful day.


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