He could have been 75. Or he could have been 95. He wore a blindingly white shirt, tucked into Levis that were creased, both ironed by his wife, or maybe his daughter, I thought. He made a slow beeline for us, pad and pencil in hand.

“Welcome, folks, welcome. We will give you the best breakfast you’ve ever had. I promise. You’ll see.” He chuckled and smiled. He was typical of certain older Hispanic men in northern New Mexico, living treasures, who have deep roots in the land and the culture, who can tell endless stories, and whose hardworking ethic isn’t diminished by the aging process.

We were in Las Vegas, New Mexico, for the weekend. It’s a wonderful town, an hour east of Santa Fe, that offers a great escape from the pressures of work and the routine of home. I’m not complaining about Santa Fe – we are incredibly lucky to be here – but Las Vegas offers a more down home, relaxed, humble experience. At the Plaza Hotel on the town plaza they serve special cocktails with cute names. The Santa Fe is described as “slightly pretentious,” which really made me laugh. Las Vegas is far from pretentious, although it has the same complex history, rich cultural mix and great shopping as its famous neighbor just down the road.

Plaza Hotel, Las Vegas, New Mexico

There were four of us at the table and we all reckoned that, yes, we were ready for the best breakfast ever. He pulled over a chair and sat so he could write his order more easily using the table. “All right. Let’s begin,” and he looked to his left. Our friend John said he would have huevos rancheros. Our host carefully wrote it down. “Red chile or green chile?” John said red. “Tortilla or toast?”  Tortilla.  “And how do you want your eggs?” over medium. When he was satisfied with what he’d written, he turned to Patty. She wanted huevos rancheros, too, same as her husband’s, but somehow we sensed that it would not be appropriate to say “I’ll have the same,” and so she went through the same question and answer process. I was next. I wanted huevos rancheros as well, but with green chile and over easy, and yes, a tortilla. He repeated what he’d written, and I corrected the chile – green, please, not red. Ahh, yes, a correction made to the little pad. And then came Roberto. Huevos rancheros, green, tortilla, over medium. Again, he read it back but that pesky red chile had snuck onto the pad, and again the correction was made. He stood up, returned the chair to its place and beaming said, “You’re gonna love our food. You just wait.” And we affirmed, yes, we knew it was going to be the best ever!

El Encanto, Las Vegas, NM

In a few minutes he was back. “The kitchen… they want to know, is it –” and he read from his little pad all four orders, which seemed to have scrambled themselves. I suggested that he could just tell the kitchen “two huevos with red and two huevos with green” and it would be just fine. He was happy with that and tucked the pad and pencil in his shirt pocket. He was about to leave, but seemed to have something else to say.

“I want to tell you that I have a problem.” He was relaxed and cheerful, and we were all ready to jump to his rescue, by now being quite in love with him. “You see I have the dimensions. Sometimes it’s good and some days it’s bad. And today there are a lot of dimensions, a whole lot of ‘em.” We made sympathetic, supportive noises, and told him he was doing great, and thanked him for telling us. He went on to say that he had lived in Las Vegas his whole life and that there is a small town about 20 miles to the north that he knows so well. He’s been there hundreds of times, but “for the life of me, I can’t find that name.” He smiled that beautiful smile and shook his head. “The dimensions,” he added, shrugged his shoulders and went back to the kitchen.

And he was right. The breakfast was the best ever. Yes, the tortillas were fresh and warm, the chile – both red and green – were just the right level of hot, the eggs miraculously came out as ordered. But the real reason the meal was so outstanding was our friend who is living with dementia. I have thought so much about him and how he is dealing with his disability – not hiding it or denying it (as I often do with my hearing loss), not asking to be excused for mistakes, nor looking for sympathy. He just shared with us something that he thought we should know, since we were doing business together and since good business is based on trust and relationship. We entered the tiny café and became his partners, and even his friends.

At that moment I decided to celebrate my birthday coming up in a couple weeks with a return trip to Las Vegas, a night in the Plaza Hotel, and another best breakfast ever with our friend at El Encanto on the corner of the plaza.


I told this story to a friend with dementia, who is an inspiration for me. She shrieked with delight. “That’s it! It’s dimensions, just too darn many of them. I love it. Tell it to me tomorrow, OK? I can love it all over again.” We had a good laugh.

30 thoughts on “Dimensions”

  1. Nice to hear a heart warming story in place of all that is in the news these days! Happy Birthday and many forward!

  2. Lovely story, Lucy. I stay at the Plaza regularly and have had many best breakfasts at El Encanto on the corner, I vouch for both.

  3. I studied mediation in retirement, and found it to be a life-enhancing experience. The best part was the people I met in the field, and the stories they told. Lucy Moore is one of those people, even though I have never met her in person, or even on a screen. Thanks Lucy, and thanks for this story.

  4. Lucy – I feel as though the first day of every month is my birthday and that your stories and perspectives are a personal gift. Each one is so generous and this one is no exception. I can taste the homemade tortillas as you speak.

    1. I will be tucking an invisible birthday wish in every post! Thank you, John, and I’m sure you can find a good tortilla in your neck of the woods.

  5. Thank you for sharing this story. I am a fan of LV and the Plaza Hotel. And I am caring for my mother who is 94 and living in assisted living three blocks from my house in Virginia. I love having time with her every day. She recently crossed from denial of the “dimensions” to being able to acknowledge when they are acting up. Life is much easier, now.

    1. Thank you, Jayne, for the glimpse into your life. I was hoping to hear some stories and insights from those other dimensions. I am glad for both you and your mother that she has moved into this new phase, sharing dimensions with my friend at El Encanto.

  6. What a lovely response to sonething that can potentially be so distressing.
    Everytime I forget someone’s name, I hope to settle into this cheerful attitude.

    1. Every time you forget someone’s name… that’s gonna be a lot of times, if you’re like me! But, how bout this? Maybe it isn’t really forgetting if you can find it within x amount of time, like five minutes, or an hour, or in the middle of the night?

  7. Thank you for adding sunshine and love to what can often be a frustrating experience for those who suffer, as we as those who live with them.

    1. Thank you so much, Eric. I was a little tentative about writing this piece, not wanting to minimize or trivialize the experience that is so painful for so many — those within the dimensions and those loved ones on the outside. I appreciate your message that a sunny view — understanding it is just a glimpse — is welcome.

  8. Oh, so beautiful, Lucy!El Encanto is the best place and usually there is a man with a parrot on his shoulder who eats there every day! And at the Plaza I too have giggled at the “slightly pretentious Santa Fe” remark on the menu. Las Vegas has a flavor all it’s own, not to mention dimensions. I love the gentleness of this story, thank you!

    1. Glad to hear you share my fondness for Las Vegas, NM. And you give me even more reason for an eager return to El Encanto — a parrot! I hope it makes an appearance for my birthday.

  9. LOVE this – especially personal as my mom has dementia – thank you for sharing; just love ‘the dimensions’ – such an accurate description.

  10. Such a lovely description of such a charming old man.
    A reminder of a time when people related directly to others.
    I’m 82, and if I ever get the dimensions, I am sure I will think of him.

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