your name is a queen (elizabeth shares a lesson on labelling)

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Let it go (it doesn’t matter if they know you or not) is one of MyAlzheimersstory.com’s most shared pieces. When I posted it on Facebook in January 2020, long-time follower Elizabeth Dunbar shared this delightful story:

My dad knew my essence until his last breath. Labeling and putting people in boxes and pigeon holes is a human convention. Other animals recognize each other without knowing relationships or each other’s history. They just accept.

So whether Dad knew my name or my relationship to him or not didn’t matter to me. I remember going away for a few days about a year before he died. When I returned, I bounced into his room as always. He looked quizzical. I realized he didn’t totally remember me, and I gave him permission to do that.

“I know you’re not feeling well enough these days to totally remember me,” I said. “Is it ok to give you a hint?”

He nodded his assent.

“Well I’m the daughter. One of two children you had. I’m the one that talks a lot!” I joked.

He threw his head back and laughed with tears in his eyes.

”Your name: it’s a Queen,” he said.

“Yes, that’s right,” I said. “I’m Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth.”

We both laughed.

This was a simple conversation we had many times after that. Sometimes I think he was lucid and pulling one over on me, because that would be him. I always treated him like he was my dad, and let him know that any forgetting was simply okay.

I love this story. It’s so hopeful and helpful, and speaks to the power of playfulness and going with the flow. Thank you so much Queen Elizabeth Dunbar.

it doesn’t matter if they know you or not

20 great questions to ask when a loved one with dementia doesn’t recognize you anymore

how often do we fail to recognize them?

 

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JM