Have you have ever wondered what it felt like to experience dementia? Try gathering together with a large group of folks you are supposed to know because you all graduated from the same school 40 years earlier. I must confess that I spent a great deal of time reading name tags—trying to fit the name with the face. There were a few people that I didn’t remember even after reading the name tag. Our school wasn’t that large, perhaps we never shared any of the same classes.
Scanning the various faces in the room , I realized that there were a few whose name tags I didn’t need to read—they had not changed since high school. Apparently no one had bothered to mention it to those particular folks that at some point they were supposed to age.
The joy I felt at recognizing a familiar face reminded me of something that occurred at my Daddy’s memorial service several years ago. At that point, my Mama was well into the first stages of dementia and her memory was quite poor. My husband, sister and I were standing by my Mama while friends and family walked past offering their condolences. Suddenly Mama’s face brightened up with a big smile as she said, “Oh, there’s a familiar face!” The rest of us all looked at each other in amazement. What a relief she must have felt at that moment to actually recognize someone.
This was only the second reunion I’d attended in 40 years since I graduated. I was glad I came to this one. Visiting and reconnecting with former classmates was a good experience. Those who attended were each champions in their own way. Among our classmates, some had experienced the thrill of victory and some the agony of defeat.
I read the list of those who had already passed on and silently grieved for each life cut short. I was glad for those I have kept in touch with over the years and was even surprised to learn that there were actually a few who still lived in the area that I had not seen since high school.
Facebook has offered a wonderful way to do a better job of staying connected going forward. I will remember this event fondly and look forward to number 50.