“Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting”
(1 Corinthians 13:7 Contemporary English Version).
“There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure”
(1 Corinthians 13:7 The Inclusive Bible).
On January 27, 2021, my sister, Gloria, who lives in Orlando, emailed me a four-panel Calvin and Hobbes comic strip.
In the first two frames, Calvin frantically searches and searches for Hobbes.
By the third frame, Calvin is on his hands and knees on the floor, intently peering under the skirt of a flowered sofa and declaring, “…MOM SAYS HOBBES WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN STOLEN BECAUSE HE’S NOT VALUABLE.”
In the final frame, with tears pouring out of Calvin’s eyes, he sits on the floor, looks down forlornly, sniffs, and proclaims, “WELL, I THINK HE’S VALUABLE.” (Watterson, Bill. Calvin and Hobbes. © Universal Press Syndicate, May 3, 1989).
With a few minor changes and additions for clarity, here’s my email reply to Gloria after she sent me the comic strip:
Hobbes is valuable in all the important ways. Thank goodness Calvin eventually found Hobbes!
At our house it's Wally, not Hobbes, who keeps getting lost. Can you guess who or what Wally is? (Hint: Wally is not a tiger or any other animal, stuffed, wild, or tame.) Wally is the name Earl gave his wallet, years ago, after dementia started causing Earl to lose things frequently: his glasses, keys, wallet, articles of clothing, and other items. Losing his wallet has been the most traumatic. Though Earl no longer needs Wally like he used to, he likes to keep Wally nearby. Wally seems to have become a kind of security blanket for Earl.
The “Wally disasters” at our house go something like this:
"i can't find my wallet," Earl frantically announces.
"Well, Earl, whenever you lose your wallet, it's most often sitting on top of the radio next to your side of the bed," i answer matter-of-factly.
Earl leaves, returns, and says, "Wally's not there."
"Then Wally's probably in one of your many pockets," i respond.
After a while, Earl returns. "No, Wally's not in my pocket."
"Keep looking in various pockets: coat pockets, vest pockets, pants pockets, " i suggest.
Before long, Earl returns, saying "i can't find Wally."
"Be sure to check all the pockets of your various coats, jackets, and your tan vest on your side of the closet that’s next to the front door," i tell him.
By then, i've generally looked in all the usual places, including many where Earl has said he’s already looked.
Soon i find Wally, most likely calmly sitting in plain sight or taking a nap in one of Earl's many pockets.
When Gloria, in her email reply, commented on my “patience and understanding” in interacting with Earl, i replied: “i find it endearing that Earl named his wallet.”
i forget how many years ago—within minutes of one of Earl’s desperate emergency proclamations about his lost wallet—i began to focus on reassurance, along with my practical tips about where Wally might be hiding. My attempts to calm and comfort Earl about Wally go this way: "Earl, rest assured: we always find Wally! Every time Wally has been lost, we look and look until we find Wally—we always find Wally the Wallet."
Now, more than a year after i first read Calvin’s proclamation that he thought Hobbes was valuable, Earl and i continue to have repeated conversations about Wally the Wallet.
Dear God, may we all, repeatedly, be kind, supportive, and patient with people who have dementia and other conditions that limit their abilities to interact with their environment in ways most of us take for granted. May we see the value in everyone and appreciate them and all their endearing qualities. Amen.
Possible Questions to Ponder
1. Who in your life have limited abilities to interact with their environment?
2. What are their limitations?
3. How might you be more supportive of each person?
4. What are some things you take for granted?
5. How might you begin to value each more?