Sunday, September 5, 2010


I do it, you do it, we all forget people's names. But with dementia it is so much harder.

Mom needed to contact the woman who does her income taxes, so we could make an appointment. This person is also a friend from town, a member of the groups and organizations that Mom belongs to, someone she has known for 20 years.

Finally I come up with C__'s first name, "Doesn't C__ do you taxes?"
Now I hope that Mom can fill in C__'s last name. No, it's not connecting.
"Give me my address book" Mom says. She opens up the first page and starts to read. She is reading every entry, looking for C__'s name.

Mom has had this tiny address book for at least 40 years. Everybody is in it. Every relative, all her friends, sorority sisters from 50 years ago, church friend from here and there, and every repair-man that ever came to the house. Since this address book is at least 40 years old there are multiple entries for practically everybody; all my college dorm addresses, my first apartment, and all my homes; and more recently my kids' college addresses, their apartments and homes. This book is FULL of addresses, no one and nothing is every erased.

I watch Mom, carefully reading every entry in her address book, looking for C__.

I was always the kid in school who said "How can I look up a word in the dictionary if I can't spell it?!" This is so much more painful, watching Mom hunt for a name she can't remember.

Finally the dementia demons take pity on my brain and connect the correct neuro-pathways.
"Mom, is her name C__ R__, is this your friend's name? Let's look in the R section."
"Of course, here she is." Mom says.

Thank goodness we didn't have to wade through the F, G, K, and L sections of the address book, full of all the family names.

Now, you may be thinking "at least it wasn't the phone book." Well no, I have seen Mom do this same thing looking for an entry in the phone book.

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