As a psychologist, I must fall in love with all of my patients in order to work with them.
This morning, I had my initial interview with a 90-year old woman who was referred due to depression. I asked my typical psychological assessment questions (“Can you tell me what day it is? Have you had any thoughts of ending your own life?”), while observing the obvious care she’d taken with her grooming.
“I love that you’re wearing red nail polish! And the flower in your hair is fabulous.”
“Thanks.” She beamed, and popped the red flower out of her hair, her shiny nails flashing as she did so. “You see? I can’t reach in the back like I used to, so I just smooth down my hair and stick this on.”
“It looks great,” I told her, charmed.
I’m a sucker for old ladies with bold nail polish.
This afternoon, in conversation with a 96-year old woman I’ve been seeing for a while, I happened to ask her if she could sing me a song.
“Amazing Grace,” I suggested.
“I can’t sing no more.”
“I can’t sing either. You’re just out of practice. I’ll bet your ‘out of practice’ is better than my best efforts.”
“Well…” She ran her arthritic fingers along one of the seven strands of colorful beads she wore around her neck. Her straw cap was on backwards, at a jaunty angle, and the gold accents on her black socks picked up the trim in her dress. She rested her head in her hand, her elbow on the armrest of the wheelchair.
“Ama-zing Grace…” Her voice was low and thin, but unmistakably expert in her working of the melody. Her rendition added a level of passion I suspect could only come from a woman of her years.
I listened, transfixed, and holding back tears. My love for her was renewed.