A recent patient (P) of mine was a peripheral co-worker of my mother's. They both worked in different departments of a large institution.
I recognized her immediately but, fortunately, she didn't remember me. I'm always ill at ease when acquaintances of my parents meet up with me and express their own grief.
As the day went on, people from this workplace came and went visiting P. Well, someone inexorably knew me. Sigh. The news spread like wildfire through the waves of visitors and I was stopped a number of times in the hall to answer questions about my life, how my family is without my mom and to listen to how sad they were, how much they miss her etc.
Don't get me wrong, it's comforting to know that so many people were affected by mom. She was an amazing special woman. She was, without a doubt, my closest friend.
It just makes for an uncomfortable workday.
I'm training someone in the end stages of orientation. This person was practically running the group and so I was able to avoid more of the prolonged interaction.
It wasn't until the end of the night that I had to re-enter the room solo.
P. saw me and thrust out her hand.
"Kate! There's another Kate on the floor whose mom worked with me. It was so tragic her dad died and then her mom... Oh.. What was her name? Oh.. Not Kate.. that's the daughter's name.. What was her name?..."
"Her name was M___. I'm Kate ___. The only Kate on the floor."
P. stared at me for a moment then burst out in sobs.
"Oh.. your mom was the sweetest lady ever. We all miss her so much and think about her every day... blah blah blah blah."
I found myself comforting a hysterical patient for over forty five minutes about the death of my own mother; a woman whose name she couldn't even remember!
To cap it off, P. sent candy and a card to the unit after her discharge thanking everyone personally for their care. "Sue was so kind and helpful. Janet was so smart... etc" But she didn't remember my name! I laughed and laughed. It was so poetically ironic!
I sure ate some candy though.