By Leigh Ann Hubbard
I had a memory glitch unlike any I’ve experienced. (Related to a treatable illness.) Have you had this happen?
I was at a family function — the twice-a-year kind that smells like home cooking and sounds like, “What are you up to these days?”
I saw a cousin’s 14-year-old daughter … and for the life of me, I couldn’t think of her name.
I used my memory tricks, like saying to myself, “[her dad’s name] and …” to trigger a connection. Nothing.
It felt different. The name wasn’t on the tip of my tongue or swirling in my brain just out of reach. It was like the information had been removed — as if I had a card catalog in my head, and someone had taken that card out. Like my brain kept skipping over that spot.
I got into a conversation with another cousin, and I mentioned the kid. My brain got this faint idea that the kid’s name was Meghan. Yeah, Meghan. Like I was seeing her in a fog in my mind. Meghan.
So that’s what I referred to her as.
After a good few seconds, I realized … I was talking to Meghan.
That was my cousin’s name.
I laughed awkwardly and acknowledged what I had done, and my cousin responded in an interesting way:
“She reminds me of me. She’s just like I was at that age — attitude and everything.”
She was right. I’m older than my cousin so can somewhat remember her at that age — similar personality and even appearance to the kid.
Maybe I called the kid Meghan because I was talking to Meghan. But I don’t think that’s all there is to it. I think my brain stretched and searched for information so hard that it made connections from nuances I hadn’t even consciously noticed.
Is this a small peek into what happens with dementia sometimes — like when a woman thinks her son is her husband? I didn’t think the kid actually was my cousin, but I can see how this could progress to that.
What an amazing creation, the brain — to be able to make connections like this, from long ago.
My cousin was kind about my mistake. She didn’t even correct me, and when I realized what I’d done, she assured me that it was a logical error. I was grateful for that.
Because in the end, the name wasn’t important. What was important was the connection we were making, talking together about loved ones and life.