What is in a name? We all know a name is important, and I don’t even need to cite research regarding the importance of one’s name.
One devastating part of Alzheimer’s Disease is when a patient no longer remembers family members’ names. In fact, my dad is at the point where he is familiar with a face, but usually can’t put a name with it. He hasn’t used my name in quite some time. In fact, the last time I heard him say my name was over a year ago. I called my parents’ house, he answered the phone, and said to my mother, “Lynne’s on the phone.” Somehow, my voice matched up with the name.
More recently, he asked “Where’s Lynne?” as I stood right next to him. In that moment, he didn’t know who I was. When I responded, “I’m right here,” he gave me a look that was a combination of disbelief and bewilderment.
I’ve come to accept that. There are a few people he instantly recognizes. Others just confuse him. The randomness of a lucid moment adds to the mystery of the disease.
But, isn’t there always hope in a new day? I stopped at my parents’ house for a quick visit. Dad was just finishing up eating. I sat in the living room, waiting for him to wander in. And that’s exactly what he did – empty plate in his hand, shuffling through the kitchen, he wandered right over to me.
“Lynne, what should I do with this?” he asked, handing me his plate and fork. I was dumbfounded! I couldn’t speak for a moment because my face was locked into an enormous smile!
I don’t remember much after that, as I basked in the sheer joy of having my dad really recognize me. I guess I had resigned myself to the fact that he’d never say my name. And, I was okay with that, since I know that his not using my name, or anyone else’s, isn’t his choice. With this disease, sometimes you just have to come to terms and accept what you never thought you’d have to accept.
And sometimes you are blessed with an unexpected gift!