So why Tacos With Grace? I wanted to have grace in the name and when I went looking through the post I had written, the taco part just jumped out at me. As a family we have experienced many taco meals. They used to be big family events, first at my husband’s home and then after we were married and had children at ours. My husband’s grandmother, Mary Curd, was partly Native American, a great cook, who had her own Mexican recipes. She taught her daughter, my husband’s mother to make tacos and she taught me how to make enchiladas. There were a lot of Louisiana relatives who gathered with my husband’s Oklahoma, New York and California family to enjoy the feast.
Yes, grandma and her family belonged to the great exodus of families who traveled to California out of the great dust storms of the plains. Finally, settled in Pacific Grove, Mary worked in the canneries of Monterey.
But this is about gatherings, feasting, enjoying hospitality alongside mild cognitive impairment, dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Large gatherings, even family gatherings, are hard for those with various dementias and mild cognitive impairment. My husband tends to sit off by himself and can be very quiet. He loves to see all of the great granddaughters—yes they are all girls. He likes to play with the children but sometimes there is just too much noise. Here are the problems:
Noise: (Most people with these disorders have trouble with noise. When I am putting dishes away in the kitchen Brad is always asking me if I broke something.)
Confusion with so many people: (comprehension is hard and with many people talking comprehension is impossible.)
Confusion with a table full of food: (Brad has trouble with sequences—he will just stand there looking unable to make food choices or even understand that he should pick up a plate first. I usually guide him or do it for him.)
Too long a time is tiring: If the gathering is at our house, I suggest that when everything is too much Brad just go in the bedroom and read or lie down. If we are somewhere else with a lot of people I try not to stay too long.
Hospitality is a Christian gift and blessing but it must be approached differently for people with brain disorders. My sense of care for the other has now to be mostly focused on Brad. One of the great ways hospitality happens in our family is when a son and his wife comes and takes us out to eat and brings a movie to watch. Or a daughter brings food and her family and we eat together. Or old friends, just a couple, invite us for dinner, so only four of us eat together and share conversation. Or maybe just one family member or friend comes and sits, drinks coffee, and talks.
We are called to be kind and full of love like our Lord. This is sometimes hard because it feels like isolation when ministry goes from many to one—but God cares for the one as much as the many. Psalms 136: 23 “Who remembered us in our low estate, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” He remembers us even when we are forgetting many events and people. He loves us through Christ our Lord.
The video below is for all of those suffering: