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
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.
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.
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.