Monday, April 18, 2011

It's All In a Name

It was Robert’s turn but he looked up from his hand to acknowledge the two people entering his room. One of the Aides was walking in to put away laundry and Robert’s roommate was rolling in to go to bed.

“What’s . . . name?”

Robert was mumbling quite a bit tonight and I couldn’t quite make out what he was asking. What, hon?

He tried to whisper but it was difficult to do so without mumbling even worse. “What’s . . . name?”

Did you say “what’s his name?” Do you mean the worker? Because (1) that’s a girl and (2) she’s standing right behind me. She can hear you. Even if you’re whispering.

“My roommate. What’s his name?”

Robert looked very concerned. He doesn’t usually look concerned but his brow furrowed and he very intently looked at me for an answer.

He knows this guy. He knows his name.

Sometimes his brain just won’t cooperate no matter how much he wants it to.

It’s always jarring for me when Robert has these incidents. A few months back he didn’t remember that Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy were on television. Robert watches those shows like clockwork and is very disappointed if basketball or baseball or the President pre-empts them. I visited Robert one day at 6:45 p.m. and he was watching another program. I assumed a sports game was on instead but he proceeded to tell me Jeopardy only comes on once a week. I changed the channel to Alex Trebek smirking at someone and Robert was genuinely shocked that Jeopardy was on.

Sometimes Robert calls my son Steve. This is a bit odd since I don’t have a son named Steve. “Christopher” is amused by it but none of us have any idea why one day Robert just started calling Chris “Steve.”

When Robert started his Day Program he told me about the two Erics he had met. They sounded strangely similar (polite and nice, according to Robert) but he insisted there were two of them. I asked the Day Program director (I couldn’t resist) how many Erics there were and she tells me there is only one. I think Robert still thinks there are actually two of them: one that rides on the bus with him in the morning and one that sits with him at lunchtime. Well, everyone can use as many friends as possible so he can have two Erics if he wants.

The bottom drops out of my stomach when Robert has these moments of confusion and when he can’t remember the name of someone he’s known for a few months now (or years, in the case of my son).

Brian. Your roommate’s name is Brian.

“Brian? Brian, you say? Thank you. Thank you for telling me.”

You’re welcome, little brother.  Please don't be concerned.  I will help you remember names. I will make sure you remember when Jeopardy is on. I will listen to your stories about your two friends named Eric.

I will always be here to help you when you forget.

2 comments:

Other Brother said...

I'm bad with names, too. I've called my employees the wrong name, and I sometimes have trouble remembering the names of my neighbors. On the other hand, I can remember in excruciating detail why Nebraska lost to Miami in the 1984 Orange Bowl.

robert's sister said...

You've got your priorities straight, Bro! That was a great game. :-)