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Compassion for a stranger
Yesterday I went out to lunch, my usual spot. There was only one other couple in the restaurant (never seen them before). I smiled and said hi and so did they. They were talking quietly and having a drink.
After about half an hour, the woman suddenly looked directly at me and asked, "What are you doing here?"
I said, "I'm getting some work done and eating lunch" (I had my laptop open).
She kept repeating hersef, "What are you doing here?" I just kept it light, "Just working and eating".
She was calm, but obviously not understanding me. Eventually, her husband got up, walked over by me and called out to her, "She's eating lunch" while pointing at my salad. This seemed to reassure her. She then started saying random things which didn't completely make sense- something about their adopted son who is from Korea and has epilepsy and is a gamer and his father was some sort of "fighter". I just tried to nod and smile and told her it was wonderful that she adopted a child. At this point, her husband quietly ushered her out of the restaurant.
The waitress asked me, "Do you think she was drunk?"
I said, no, I think she has some sort of memory related/cognitive condition.
She wasn't at all angry or agressive, just confused. I could see in her eyes that she genuinely was perplexed by me, who knows- maybe I reminded her of someone else she knew? Or she was confused by seeing someone sitting in a restaurant with a laptop?
I left feeling a deep sense of compassion for both her and her husband.
Just a simple smile or nod means so much to so many. It is difficult to get our LO's out and 'deal' with all that is involved. I know I appreciate it when someone simply smiles.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for your actions—and the reminder.
Alzheimer’s or dementia is NOT the first thing that many people think when they see odd behavior, IME. Once they are told, or something “reminds” them, they are always nice about it, or at least not critical (again, IME).
Odd or different behavior gets noticed, but if people realize it’s Alzheimer’s or some dementia, they Are much more understanding about it.
Mom is so very clearly extremely old and frail that many probably assume she is also "senile". We were in the library yesterday where to 40-something guy at the checkout took everything in stride. She wanted to renew a 7-day book? No problem, we'll give you 28 days. 3 min later--Oh, returning that (just-checked-out) book? Thanks! Sure, I'll look and see for you if we have any more books by those people (she never read a word of it; has too many daily papers and weekly/monthly mags and her own books that occupy her "reading" time). Long computer search. No ma'am, he did write some more books but we don't have them in the library system. 3 min later I managed to save him from a return visit by answering the inevitable question. He wins a huge prize for equanimity in the face of what would drive anybody but a (already "weird" in their own right) librarian bonkers.
She has never been socially awkward or embarrassing, so hoping she is spared that. She asked me very quietly if a certain person she saw in church was "real", but she whispered it. He was the roundest person I've ever seen, and perfect skin as in a painting, so it was a fairly legit question coming from her!
Rescue Mom- You made a really goint point, most people don't immediately think of Alz/Dementia, particularly in a restaurant setting, especially if the person "looks" physically fine.
Eagle- That's exactly what I was thinking- how much does the husband have to deal with. He was so quiet, so calm, obviously used to handling situations like this. And it probably breaks his heart that he and his wife cannot just go out and do things like having lunch without her getting confused. I hope my smile helped him to feel that someone had compassion for him and his wife.
Zauberflote- God bless that nice man at the library!
Seasons in the sun- It makes me wonder if there is a way for Council on Aging or other local agencies which serve elders could do trainings for restaurants and businesses?