Wednesday, December 14, 2011

small talk

Small talk - I'm terrible at small talk. I'm socially awkward. What should I talk about with my husband's work associates at the company holiday parties?  What can I say to the spouses of my work associates?

I have always loved the scene in the movie "While You Were Sleeping" when the new fiancee is enraptured by the conversation around the Christmas dinner table. "These potatoes are so creamy. John Wayne was tall. Dustin Hoffman is not tall." She is overjoyed by the crazy conversations.

Can you follow the conversation around your own family's holiday dinner table? There is never one conversation at the table, there are many threads, all crossing and weaving together, branching off and coming back in. The larger the table of people the more crazy the conversational tapestry.

I'm reading another book  The All-Weather Friend's Guide to Alzheimer's Disease, by Mary M. Cail PhD

Chapter 12: the author invites Michael and Elaine to her home for a dinner party. Elaine has Alzheimer's.  Michael has become an isolated caregiver. Michael and Elaine have been socially dropped from most of their couple-friend activities. Elaine's conversational abilities are scant. Her sentences don't make sense.

As the evening unfolds the author realizes, that if you were to look at a silent film version of their dinner party you would not know that Elaine has Alzheimer's.

The other people at the party were willing to converse with Elaine in HER time and space. Responding with interest to her garbled sentences. It's not what you say it's how you say it. 

Smiling with your whole self, touching, looking someone in the eyes. Being with them where they are. Who cares what the words are. Do you really remember the point/theme/plot of any dinner party conversation?  There is not going to be a test.

What do we remember from the holiday table? The good food, the laughter, the companionship, the togetherness.  It's all small talk, just now, with dementia, some conversations are much smaller than they use to be.

1 comment:

Pamela said...

so well this and needed to hear it today