Cindy & Malcolm – Client Spotlight!

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I welcome you to take a moment to immerse yourself in reading about Cindy and one of the Greatest Love Stories in Imagine’s history. 

42 years ago Cindy came to the Santa Cruz county as a feisty, colorful and exciting personality. She was a strong independent women and held a few wonderful jobs peeling apples for Gloria’s pies, chopping veggies for Erik’s Deli, and toiling at Sweet’s in The Nude Furniture store in Soquel.

Cindy loved to be busy- dancing, talking, listening to music, bowling, and making beautiful crocheted pieces. 

One day, years later, Cindy was with some peers at a group event held by Easter Seals. Malcolm walked in and laid eyes on Cynthia.

“Back in the day when I wasn’t driving yet, I lived across from the Easter Seals office. There was a group event and when I walked in, I saw her, I said ‘wait a minute’ – it was love at first sight. I went up to her and said, ‘Hi Cinnnddyyy.’ I was talking with her, and I kissed her!”

When I asked Malcolm “oh my goodness! What did Cindy do?!” With a huge grin on his face and said as proud as could be, “she kissed me back!” Malcolm, totally in love, knew that he couldn’t let Cindy get away but hadn’t asked her on a date yet. There was a group that went bowling at Surf Bowl, now known as Boardwalk bowl. Malcolm went to watch Cindy bowl.

According to Malcolm, Cindy was an amazing bowler. He was impressed with her. Cindy being Cindy was very talkative and Malcolm loved listening to her. Malcolm went with Cindy and her roommate back to her house. He wanted to be a gentleman and make sure she got home safe. This is where Malcolm magically turned that fun filled day into a date, when he kissed her again at her front door. Malcolm described it as, “Romantic, very romantic”. The next weekend they hung out and it seemed like they were always together from that point on. “The day I met Cindy, she became part of me, she was my person.” 

One of Malcolm’s favorite memories was in 2013 when he arranged a romantic date to Kiva Retreat House. It was beautiful, it was surrounded by eucalyptus trees, you could look at the mountain and look up at the stars. They were invited with tea’s and beautiful hot tubs, Malcolm was very proud that back then it only cost him twelve-dollars for the date. Apparently, Cindy was very nervous getting into the hot tub and Malcolm remembers being so in love with her that he was patient, held her hand and reassured her not to be scared because she was with him and he wasn’t going to let anything happen to her, as she stepped into the hot tub . Cindy became comfortable and away she chatted. Again, Malcolm loved listening to her talk. 

October 17th,1989 the earthquake really shook things up for their relationship when Malcolm was displaced due to some damage to his apartment. Malcolm stayed with Cindy for a while and when his apartment was fixed, he and Cindy decided to move in together. “We were independent! We helped each other, we spent a lot of loving time together.” For most of their 30+ year romance they had fun, they stayed busy and Cindy kept Malcolm on his toes.

If you have ever met Malcolm, he is known for having a very red nose, which Cindy found to be adorable, which led to her nickname, Mr. Red Nose. They loved barbecuing, going to Camp Harmon, dancing and going to the Drive-in Theater, Sky View in Santa Cruz.

Malcolm said, “Cindy could really move her feet when we were dancing, she loved to dance.” They continued their lives and lived to the fullest. Their home is filled with photos of the two of them smiling and Cindy draped over the love of her life. They continued to go to events around Santa Cruz and had memorable holidays with their families. Malcolm spoke of a camping trip with Cindy’s sister Rhoda to Cherry Lake on the western side of the Sierra Nevada just outside of the boundaries of the Yosemite Natural Park. He described it as a beautiful adventure with Cindy.

Malcolm and Cindy were so connected that even when her dementia was taking over, she would have moments where she would say out loud, “Where’s Malcolm?” or Cindy would be looking around worried and call out for Malcolm. “Cindy had a good attitude she was just a loving person.”

In 2014 things changed for the couple. Cindy received three progressive diagnoses that were attacking her nervous system, one targeting her memory, on her neuromuscular system and one her ability to control her emotions. Cindy tried to continue with normal life for as long as she could but after a few years, she lost her ability to walk and her memory had faded, along with her ability to speak. 2014 was a hard start to what was to come but it opened a beautiful chapter in their lives as caregivers were apart of every minute of their lives.

Over the years, Cindy had many caregivers that came in as staff and most if not, all came to consider Cindy and Malcolm as family. I had the privilege of Cindy and Malcolm being my very first two clients as a Facilitator.

I am deeply impressed by the incredible care Cindy’s staff gave her. Not only were her basic needs met, but I would go over and the staff had Cindy in full make-up with her hair done and beautiful bright clothing on, Cindy’s favorite blingy jewelry sparkled and nails were painted. Cindy could still say one or two words at that time, and when I asked if she was happy or told her how good she looked, she would reply “Yah” or give a cute giggle.

Spa days with facials were a regular occurrence. When the staff asked Cindy for one of her birthdays if she wanted to dye her hair she said “YAH”! enthusiastically. We went through a list of colors and every time we landed on purple, she made it known with her strong eye contact. They did not disappoint! That was some rockin’ purple hair and an amazing birthday.

Halloween was a favorite in the house. The staff finally convinced Malcolm to do couples costumes with Cindy. One year they were scarecrows. My favorite?With masterful makeup, they became a mermaid and captain. Cindy’s staff always made it a point to make Cindy’s environment as fulfilling as possible.

Not only did they focus on Cindy, but they made sure that Cindy and Malcolm maintained their connection. Malcolm would come home from work every day and say, “Cindy I’m Home!” Cindy staff would perk up their voices and say, “Cindy! Malcolm’s home, do you hear him? He’s coming to see you.” Cindy’s eyes would open wide and she would look around. Staff would play music and as Cindy’s hands would bounce about, Malcolm would stand at her side and do a bit of dancing with her. 

Even in Cindy’s last days, staff sat by her side, making sure she was pampered. They played music and Malcolm danced beside her. They sat around Cindy with Malcolm encouraging Malcolm to talk about their love story. Cindy’s Sister and Brother-in-law joined on speaker phone, reminiscing and reminding Cindy all the small things about her that we love about her and all we are going to celebrate about her colorful life. Cindy spent her final days surrounded by so much love that continued even after she took her final breath. Cindy may be physically no longer with us, but those who knew her will forever be changed by the gift she gave all of us. She will never be forgotten, and will be remembered when the oldies play, Madonna comes on, when we wear sparkles and blingy jewelry, even when the lucky ones of us get a facial. Cindy will be in our hearts and memories for the rest of our lives. 

To Cindy’s staff, past and present. We at Imagine thank you from the bottom of our hearts for giving Cindy so much love and care from the time she came to us in 2014 to the time we said goodbye March 17th, 2024. As mentioned above, all of the little things you all did were ginormous acts to enriching Cindy’s life, and Malcolm feeling safe enough to continue living his life knowing how well his love was cared for. Caring for someone in their last days like you all did with Cindy are some of the hardest days in caregiving you will have and you all handled it with such beauty and grace. You made a huge difference in her, and Malcolm’s lives and even continuing to support Malcolm through such a hard time is a true testament to how amazing loving and caring you all are as caregivers. Thank you for being the spotlight on how much we love supporting through the good and not so good moments. – Deeply appreciative of you.

Angie and Jessica


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