It is so bad that I lose things that aren't really lost. I forget current things that I remember -- well eventually.
This from a guy who has a reputation for possessing a long-term memory as sharp as an elephant's, for heaven's sake. No problem with dates, faces, names and events dating back more than 75 years; but I can't remember what I had for lunch, where I put my glasses, where I left my car keys, and what I did with my wallet.
Without a word of a lie, I have difficulty getting things done through the course of a day because I spend half my time retracing my steps looking for things.
I really outdid myself two days ago. I was in a store and wanting to pay for a purchase with my Visa card. I opened my wallet and, you guessed it, no credit card. I had an instant sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. You see, after a three-week wait, a new card had just been reissued to me because I had lost the old one. Left it behind in a store somewhere and out of desperation, had it cancelled.
With some prodding by the sales clerk, I thought back to when I last used the card. To my credit, I remembered that I had used it about four hours earlier at another store in nearby Port Elgin. Frantically, I rushed back into Port Elgin and questioned a young man at the cash counter. "I was in here earlier today and think that I may have left my credit card in your machine...Is there any chance that it was turned in?"
"I don't know...I just came on shift, but I'll have a look in the office for you," he replied, sensing the urgency in my demeanor and leaving a somewhat annoyed cash-paying customer holding his money. In a few seconds he returned empty handed and I feared the worst. "Sorry sir, nothing has been turned in...Are you sure you didn't leave it somewhere else?" Poor kid was trying to be helpful.
Dejectedly and completely befuddled, I left the store and walked to my car in the parking lot. Yes I remembered where I left the car, but there have been times when I did not.
Almost as an after-thought as I checked all of my pockets for the 10th time and scanned the car's front seat and floor board for an equal number of times, I reached for the wallet in my back pocket and pulled out the two-sided card holder...And what to my wondering eyes should appear as I flipped over the card holder, none other than the beautiful, familiar grey and blue colours of the "lost" card. It was not in its customary slot on the front of the holder, but it was there on the back nonetheless. I had obviously and absentmindedly misplaced it in the holder earlier in the day and was overlooking it in the haze of a very protracted senior moment. With a "thank you God!" and a deep sigh of relief, I placed the card back in its usual spot in my wallet and went on my way to live another day, vowing to never let it happen again. I must keep my wits about me and be more conscious of what I am doing at all times, I tell myself...If only I remember.
With that preamble, you can imagine then, my amusement when today I read a piece written by Canadian singer, songwriter, broadcaster and author Jann Arden. I have admired Jann ever since she burst onto the music scene some 30 years ago, so much so that I follow her writings on-line. I not only appreciate her music, but also her quirky sense of humour and personality. In a recent post, Jann talks about bearing the weight of her parents' forgetfulness. Here's what she wrote:
There are days when I feel like I am the worst person in the world. I sit in a chair and feel like everything I do and everything I say is mean spirited and selfish. This is the weight that slithers my way on occasion, when it comes to the care of my mom and dad. Both of their memories are all over the place and I find myself getting more and more impatient, more snippy, more grumpy, more frustrated.
My mom said to me the other day "You always seem mad at me Jann..." I died a little inside after she let that sentence fall out of her mouth. I told her I wasn't mad at all, that I was just somehow caught off guard with this new version of them.
"This is new to me too", she said, "And I can't do a darn thing about it. I am practically drinking that coconut oil you bought us..." That really made me laugh. I told her that I hoped she was kidding.
I loathe watching them misplace every single thing; keys and purses and credit cards and hats and coats and money and electric bills and coffee mugs and glasses and the TV remote...ALL of it, goes missing. There are elves in the house, "movers" my mom calls them, that take little things and put them just out of reach, just out of plain sight. "The movers move things" she said. "Either that, or your dad and I are going crazy. At least we're doing it together."
They are indeed doing it together. They NEVER get mad at each other. My dad will answer the same question from my mom a hundred times and not even flinch. After about the fourth time mom asks me something, I seem to lash out like a whip and I feel completely ashamed. I called her the other day and told her how sorry I was and she said "About what?" It gave me a lump in my throat the size of a toaster.
"About you being so short with me," she added, "well, you're doing the best you can, you always do and we appreciate everything you do..." I can feel my heart pump the blood to the end of my fingers. I can feel it fill my cheeks and pulse in my running shoes that are tied too tight again.
My mom is so kind. It baffles me most days how my dad's drinking and carrying on back in the day didn't make her coarse and bitter and unmerciful. No matter how much he yelled, or how drunk he got, or how often he stormed around like a four year old, my mom just kept right on being herself -- empathic, good natured, generous, funny and thoughtful. And here I am, turning into some kind of memory referee, blowing my whistle and crying fowl, every time either of them repeat themselves or get mixed up.
After much reflection, I have realized how scared I am. I am scared of them forgetting themselves into oblivion and taking me with them. I am scared of all the changes, how their lives seem to be stolen day to day, their pasts thrown into a blender and set to STUN. I am just scared. The funny part of all of it, is that they aren't the least bit concerned. They, on the contrary, are not scared at all. They are happy. They are so good humored and light hearted, positive and faithful and easy going. I am the only one freaking out. I need to tear a page out of their book and just calm the hell down.
So what if they put the remote in the fridge? So what if the car keys are in with the dog food? Mom said: "We find things eventually Jann, it's not the end of the world." Indeed, it is not.
God bless Jann Arden as she learns to accept and live with what her parents are going through at present time. May some of their sense of humour rub off on her...She's going to need it more and more in the days ahead, trust me!
Are you taking note, Rosanne, Debbie and Cindy?