Respite Group, and What Happpens to Conversation

Well, the Respite Program seems to be working for both of us – J continues to almost look forward to going on Wednesday and Friday afternoons, so we are much freer from the angsty energy that more or less permeated, for over a year, the atmosphere around my previous attempts to arrange respite experiences. I didn’t realize how much it – the angst – was an issue until it was much relieved over the past several weeks. 
Now the whole week regularly has something most days for J to do – this makes such a difference for me as well as her. Maybe it’s the relief parents feel when a little kid goes off to nursery school for two mornings a week – doesn’t sound like that much, but wow, it changes the whole dynamic. This is really good for us. 
Now about those theories of conversation….
At least 6 or 7 times a day I start to bring something up that I am thinking about, and catch myself, wondering if this topic or the effort to put it into some context will cause more distress than the conversation is worth. For instance, I emailed the builder about a front step project, and he replied with certain information about materials (composite vs wood, sizing concerns, etc). In the past, I would mention this, and explain the project and the variables so that J would be part of any decisions made. Now, it’s sort of like playing tennis with one player and dead tennis balls – J shows polite interest, but can’t remember long enough so that if I were to follow up in a day or two she would have any idea what I was talking about. 
Or, she runs into a minor snag with her email, and I have to choose between explaining what’s happened and how to fix or just fixing it. Either way I risk triggering her awareness of how hard it is to understand things now. 
On the other hand, when we had lunch with friends the other day, she was able to participate in the conversation with comments about things she had done in the past, a few items about her family, etc, all properly following from something someone said. Sometimes, however, the facts she relays are simply wrong – she may attribute an event to one person when it really was another, even though the event really happened, or she might combine events and report them as one. And she relays these things confidently and in a totally believable tone, much of the time. I refrain from any correcting, unless it’s a date or otherwise important point. 
When we sit in the evening before dinner and enjoy a glass of wine and share about our days, something we’ve done every night for over twenty years now, it is getting much harder to generate topics to talk about. Fortunately we still have blogs from friends touring the IntraCoastal Waterway which make for great conversation starters. Often a blog post will open a door of remembrance for J, since she has sailed, and traveled in Florida in her past. But there is often the same conversation we had the night before – not that it is so hard for me to manage, but it’s always a strange feeling to hear your dearest friend launch, unaware, into those same exact remarks. 
Enough for now – it’s almost time to go pick J up from the Respite group, and head to the audiologist for hearing aid repair. It’s raining hard, which I am grateful for since it means the group did not get canceled because of snow! 


5 thoughts on “Respite Group, and What Happpens to Conversation

  1. You are expressing exactly what I go through on a regular basis. Your tennis metaphor is perfect. I just tried to have a discussion about our finances before realizing Ralph could not really help. But we had dinner the other night with friends and except for his repetitions, I doubt they noticed his slight disconnects. Our one-on-one rituals of talking over coffee in the morning or over dinner are precious but increasingly limited too. I feel we are dealing with very similar situations…Thanks for the post

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I was working I never stopped feeling humbled by the stories that people shared challenging them to dig deep for the strength and creativity to cope, as they all did some better at it than others. You are an inspiration to all of us.
    Trish

    Liked by 1 person

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