I’m sure many nursing homes have signs of some sort to identify which resident lives in which room. This was true of the nursing home my Dad lived at the last year of his life. I thought I had taken a photo at some point but I can’t find it. I was struck by the child-like quality the signs had. They identified where the resident was born, then their favorite color, their favorite food, etc. I think it included family information, like how many kids/grandkids they had and I don’t remember what else. The signs reminded me of being in kindergarten, and going through various exercises to get to know your classmates.
I’ve been thinking about those signs lately, as I’m writing a a brief autobiographical blurb for a writing project I’m working on. Trying to figure out the important details to include, and what to kick out, is exhausting.
At some point in our lives, it seems there are so many details that seem crucial for others to know, but at the beginning and the end, it seems to come down to colors and food and family.
Maybe those are the important things after all.
(The thing that bothered me about my dad’s sign is that a lot of the information was incorrect. They got his hometown of Belfast correct, but his favorite color wasn’t blue and spaghetti wasn’t his favorite food, it was fish.)
It was just another way Alzheimer’s chipped away at my Dad’s identity.