I spent an evening at Joseph’s House last evening. I occasionally visit for the Friday evening meal, which is open to guests. Last night as we ate, I was seated close to two Ethiopian refugees who’d come to the house in the past few months. One I had talked to several times in the past months, but I could remember almost nothing of our conversations, even his name. As he described a talk we'd had a year or two ago about the possibility of living with us, I could only vaguely remember it. Clearly I’d been a somewhat important person to him … and I could remember little of it.
It’s really embarrassing. These several times we’d met, I’d been surprised by his instant welcome and warmth toward me. After the first time or two, I knew each time that I had met him but not the contexts. It wasn’t appropriate in that situation to tell him about my Alzheimer’s, but I worried that he’d felt slighted when I didn’t recognize him for the fourth or fifth time.
The same thing happened with the other Ethiopian, a women that I can now vaguely remember meeting and talking with at our church’s Thanksgiving dinner. She too was friendlier than a stranger would be, and as we shook hands, she recognized that I didn’t remember her and mentioned it. I apologized, but again I felt really embarrassed.
This is just the beginning of many such meetings. A part of me wishes the disease would progress faster so that my condition would be more obvious and I less embarrassed. (Well, ok, it’s a really, really small part of me that wishes for a faster progression.)
My memory is increasingly being shredded; there large holes through which more and more is falling. My symptoms are becoming more noticeable, and I’m glad that I will be sharing with my entire community at Eighth Day tomorrow and beginning to publish all these blog entries as a memoir in a week or two.