One of the books I read about Alzheimer’s indicated that word substitution would become a thing. In the example, the book describes a father and daughter going out for lunch when the father orders “a burger and spiders.” While that is alarming, it is also completely decipherable and somewhat humorous. In our reality, we have the latter but not always the former. For instance, Mom just asked me, “Has she seen you at the library yet?” I have no earthly idea what she is talking about. Absent a prior discussion to provide context cues or visual prompt to help me, I am lost. Which means the ensuing conversation could go something like this: “I’m not sure who you mean, Mom. Has who seen me at the library?” of “I haven’t been to the library, do you mean the store?” The thing is, it’s unlikely that she will be able to articulate who or where she meant and will as often as not have forgotten that she asked the question.
My first impulse, and it’s surprisingly strong, is to correct her and I find myself endlessly saying, “no.” No, that’s not where we went. No, that’s not how you make that. No, you didn’t work in the yard. No, no, no. I don’t like being that person. In fact, I admire my husband and my niece and my sister who all seem to be able to seamlessly gloss over those oddities and answer with grace, generosity and humor. (Three things that are at the top of my values list!) So I’m trying to be more like them. Which is why today when she asked if the unknown-she had seen me at the library yet, I answered, “Nope, not yet.”