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The Conversation



Who could possibly believe the conversations that transpire with a person who has memory loss? Pretend that you are invisible in the room!

Him: I need coffee.

Me: Here is your coffee.

Him: It is too hot. Put in an ice cube.

Me: (plopping in the cube) Here is the coffee with the ice cube.

Him: The coffee is too cold. Why do you give me cold coffee?

Me: You asked for the ice cube.

Him: I can’t drink cold coffee.

Me: Sorry about that.

Him: I want more coffee!

Me: The coffee is finished.

Him: Why?

Me: Because it was made earlier today and we used it all.

Him: I want more.

Me: You have had enough coffee. It is not good for your ulcer.

Him: I don’t have an ulcer.

She: Yes, you do. Too much coffee irritates it.

Him: What do you care? You don’t care!

(A few minutes later…. It begins again:)

Him: I need my B-12!

Me: You have B-12 on Thursday and Sunday. It is written on your check list.

Him: You did not put it in my ear!

Me: B-12 is taken under the tongue.

Him: Why are ear drops going under my tongue?

Me: No, B-12 is not for the ears.

HIM: Why are you lying to me?

Me: I never lie to you. (confession: that is not exactly true…but never about his medications…)

Him: Did you give me my ear drops?

Me: Not today. You have them on Sunday. Today is Friday.

Him: You never gave them to me on Sunday.

Me: Yes, I did.

Him: You are lying to me!

Me: (feeling a small discomfort in my chest… left side, could it be heart?) Let’s put your check-list away now. (Hubby’s clipboard with his “schedule” is his most treasured possession. It is intended to create order and a sense of calm for a befuddled mind. Him looks at it every few minutes throughout the day.)

Him: No. How will I know if you are doing everything right without it?

Me: (Thinking to myself:) You’ve got to be kidding!

Substitute Caregiver (C.G.): Let’s play a game.

Me: He likes “Word builder” in the newspaper.

C.G.: Let’s do the crossword puzzle.

Me: No, that is too hard for him. Do the “Word builder” please.

(C.G. Gives Hubby a piece of paper and pencil to write down the words.)

Me:  No, you write down the words as he finds them.

Him: I found a five-letter word: “W I L E S.”

Me: (speaking to C.G.): Please write down the word.

(C.G proceeded to write the word as if it is Chinese, from the top of the page to the bottom.)

Me: (Thinking I am going quite mad) Why are you writing the word vertically?

C.G.: No answer.

Him: I can only find one five-letter word.

Me: Try some three letter words.

Him: I am not interested in those. I have one! …. W I L E S.

C.G: We have that one already.

Him: I cannot find any more five-letter words.

Me: Try some smaller ones too.

Him: Staring at the letters… (No response. He will not consider my suggestion. Is it “will not,” or is it “cannot?”) (Please read the DD chapter “Can’t vs Won’t”).

Me: (He has always liked this game. The challenge of the five-letter word was always his favorite. Now he reverts back to his previous inclination, and refuses to look for smaller ones. This game is clearly not working anymore.)

Him: (for the fifth time) – Do you have “W I L E S”?

C.G.:  Yes, I have written it… look here on the paper.

C.G.: (Now looking at her phone, hoping to escape. She has thrown in the “proverbial towel.” She has the patience of a grasshopper.)

When I shared this experience with others in my support group, their responses gave me pause:

“At least your husband speaks.”

“I wish my husband could still talk to me…”

I cannot imagine a Hubby who does not emote every thought that enters his mind. I understand now… that the deafening silence is a greater enemy than the verbosity. I count my small blessings.


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Barbara Diamond is a journalist living in Jerusalem, Israel. She has been a political activist on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people for over fifty years, having participated in political and humanitarian missions to Ethiopia, the former Soviet Union, China, and Europe to meet with world leaders on matters of concern. She has written over 100 articles for the Jerusalem Post and on her blog at The Times of Israel, hosted an English radio talk show in Jerusalem and continues mentoring others to pass on the torch of responsibility. You can reach her at [email protected] and visit her site at