Remembering the Nouns

Conversation starters in our household run the gamut, at least when I’m the initiator.  It might be, “Do you know where I put my thingamajig?”  Or it could be “Remind me where to turn to get to Kay’s house.”  Or, it could even be a whispered “What is that woman’s name – the one in the red coat?”

It’s the nouns I have difficulty with.  I learned my parts of speech from Mrs. Barnes in the 8th grade at E Street Grammar School in San Rafael.  Nouns were the easiest – a person, place, or thing.  Unfortunately, those are what are escaping me these days.  Not always.  Not yet, anyway.  A few years back when I worried about it to my son, he reminded me (not very reassuringly) of the old joke – just because you can’t remember what your keys are called doesn’t mean you have dementia; it’s when you don’t remember what they’re for that you might have a problem.

Papa’s Coffee Cup

I have had a couple of good role models in my lifetime as far as dementia is concerned.  My mother, who lived to be 97, began to show signs of dementia at 79 or 80.  Her father, my beloved grandfather ‘Papa,’ became “forgetful” in his late sixties and lived well into his eighties.  Both of them retained their humor, their kindness, and their basic personalities, until the end – even when most of their physical abilities were also gone.

If dementia is to be my lot in life, I hope I can manage it with the same grace as they seemed to.  Of course, the real heroes were their friends and family – the people who treated them with dignity, no matter what.  I well remember watching “The Dinah Shore Show” here with my Aunt Mona and Papa back in the 1950s.  Papa was enchanted with Dinah Shore.  “Get that gal a cup of coffee,” he said to Mona.  And Mona went to the kitchen and brought a cup for Papa who, by that time, had forgotten his request.  “Thank you, girlie,” he told Mona with a smile.  “Just what the doctor ordered!”

Nan and Jack, 2012

My girlhood friend Nan, who was also in Mrs. Barnes’ 8th grade class with me all those years ago, wrote to me Monday:  … and the next line will be a shocker, I was diagnosed last Friday as having dementia. Oh, my dear, dear friend!  How I wish I were nearby to reassure and to help in any way possible as you journey down this unfamiliar path!  And I am so thankful that you have a loving husband and nearby family to give you the support you need.  To fill your coffee cup just as the doctor ordered!

 

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