Doris and Ethel both in their eighties, share a room in a local long-term care facility, for people who have moderate to severe dementia. .They don’t know why they live there or quite how they got there, as a matter of fact they don’t remember a lot; not names or faces, and reality is sometimes elusive.

Doris and Ethel were nurses when they were younger; both lived through the Depression, World War II, lost husbands, have children and grandchildren. They are best friends and pass their days knitting hats and talking to each other. They never run out of things to talk about, and they love to knit.

It takes them a couple of days to finish knitting a colorful hat. When completed they are donated to the Salvation Army which distributes them at a homeless shelter. These hand-made hats are deeply appreciated, and sometimes Doris and Ethel get thank you notes from recipients that make them cry; they say this is their family. These two old ladies care for each other, and they are cared for by others. Neither of them will be cured of their dementia, but they are healed.

Healing is a spiritual expedition rather than a physical one, which is why we can be healed even if we can’t be cured. Healing is about connecting to something other than ourselves. It doesn’t matter if the connection is personal or if it’s cosmic, but it has to remind us that we are not alone on the journey. Healing is having the courage to see ourselves just as we are, and to find a way to come to every day with anticipation and joy. The process of healing has less to do with getting better, than it does with getting real.


Doris and Ethel remind us all, that if we care for somebody and somebody cares for us, we can live life until our last breath.