Sunday, June 27, 2010

Of Memories and Memory.

How good is your memory?

Mine is toast with respect to the short term stuff. I can't remember stuff I need to retain for five minutes and don't even think about asking me what happened or what I did yesterday!

Total recall is definitely not a part of my vocabulary.

And I'll be very honest here as I tell you this, it scares the living daylights out of me how darned forgetful, or is it senile, that I have or am becoming!

This is probably the one thing I do actually worry about -a lot, too. The cancer, the prior surgeries, the upcoming surgery -I pretty much put them out of my mind and don't allow myself to dwell on them.

A lot of folks have remarked to me that considering my medical issues over the last seven years and that it all started going downhill with the go-round of colo-rectal cancer, they don't understand my lackadaisical attitude towards health concerns. But that simple to me. My theory is we all are going to die someday and what good would worrying about this do me but perhaps bring it on sooner as a result of my worrying about it all.

The spring of the year I received the cancer diagnosis (2003) our church had an interim minister then as we awaited the arrival of a new minister who had accepted the call to our parish. But prior to that, I was going for some counseling with the interim pastor -a really terrific guy who I often had wished would have accepted the call to our parish. Just a really nice man, easy to talk to about any and virtually all concerns.

One day, in our chat, I mentioned to him my one worry -the forgetfulness -and I told him it emanates from the fact that my grandfather had what was back in the 50s referred to then as "Hardening of the arteries." Today, I suppose it could be considered Alzheimer's or simply dementia but anyway, he had a lot of days the last two years of his life when he didn't know my Grandma, my Mom, other family members and friends, often tried to run away and did a few other slightly strange things then too. (Funny thing though about his memory lapses is that he always knew me! He'd always called me or referred to me as "the kid" and that never left him.)

But anyway, I had explained to the minister that I really don't fear or dread death but the thing I do fear most is that as time goes on, I will end up like my Grandfather or like my Mom's older sister or even like my Mom, who was beginning to get a lot of the same issues shortly before she died like Grandpa or my aunt had. And, I told him, for whatever it is worth, I just hate the thought of not knowing the people around me, family members, friends and such and not even perhaps even knowing who I am either then.

I told him that if there were a guarantee that came with longevity that I could live to a really ripe old age and be like a lady from our parish who lived to be 101 and was fully lucid -as well as quite active too -up almost to the very end -I wouldn't mind living on and on and on, ya know.

Well the pastor looked at me and said "Well, I really think even if you do live a really long life and even if your mind takes a vacation, consider it this way. You will still be happy because you won't realize that you don't know what's going on around you then anyway!"

Yeah, true enough, that thought is, but still....

However, there is something else too and that's the fact that many of my family members and a lot of my good friends too tend to marvel at my memory these days.

No, not the short term stuff which I already mentioned that it is very SHORT! But rather the things I remember from years and years long gone by!

This subject came up again at the monthly lunch event I attend with 3 or 4 good friends from high school as well as two of these friends go way back to first grade. My friend Kate -well that friendship extends back as far as I can remember as we grew up two doors apart, have been best of friends for at least 62-63 years now.

But I remember all kinds of minute details, events, birthdays, family stories not just from my own family but often from theirs too!

Earlier this week when my older daughter and her son -my older grandson -were here for supper, we got talking around the table then about memories and how I remember a lot of stories about our family too from fifty years and more.

And I was telling them stories about my Grandpa -and his issues of confusion and memory loss and also, things about neighbors and friends -people they also know.

I told them that my good friend Rose -one of the girls in my lunch group -and someone I've been friends with now for almost 60 years -marvels that I remember some of the things I do -like the time I called her on her wedding anniversary about 2, maybe 3 years ago, just to wish her and Durv a Happy Anniversary.

But, as I explained to my girls, as long as I remember what year I graduated from high school and also, that there is such a thing as Saint Patrick's Day, I figure I'll always be able then to remember then how many years Rose and Durv have been married since they got married on St. Patrick's Day the year we were seniors in high school!

Here's hoping the memories still hold up for me for a few more years to come though. Which is one reason why I started this blog -four years ago this coming September -so I could document things my kids and especially my grandchildren do and also, write about things I remember from a long, long time ago, things that impacted me, that made or make me who I am today, ya know -so my kids and the grandchildren too and anyone else in my linage who might come along many years from now and can understand then who this person -me -really was!

Just in case someone somewhere in the future might want to know that really important stuff about me, ya know!


Maggie May said...

It is a problem...... memory..... as you get older.
I often worry about dementia too. Trouble is, in the early days that I think you do know that something is happening to you before it gets really bad.

At the moment, I have faced cancer but the thing that seems to be bugging me the most is my arthritic wrist. It wakes me in the night and prevents me knitting in the day.
I guess some people age graciously...... not me. I fight it all.
Word ver is calmog...... maybe that first part is trying to tell us something!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Kat said...

Yeah, like Maggie May said, my dad knew something was wrong with him when he had Alzheimer's. He would always apologize to my mom over and over again for her having to deal with it. It was horrible. He became so self conscious and withdrawn. The opposite of my dad. So horrible.

Anyway, I think many people worry about this. But like you said before, what good does worry do? Not much. It sounds to me like you have a very good memory, but you probably have a lot going on so the short term stuff gets tossed aside sometimes. ;)

And yes, I think this blog is a great idea for helping to remember everyday life. That is why I have mine too. :)

Debbie said...

I worry about my memory too. A lot. And unlike you, I can't remember long term things either. I don't remember anyone from high school. It's like I've never laid eyes on them before. Frightening.

Linda said...

My memory, especially my short-term memory, is right up there with yours - toast. And burnt toast at that. I have found it to be downright scary now only that I can't seem to remember simple things anymore but that I sometimes seem to have trouble even remembering how to pronounce a word. I can see and hear that word in my head but I can't get it out of my mouth. This drives me nuts when I'm watching Jeopardy.

I've heard some say that we all suffer from mental overload these days as there's just so MUCH information going into our heads that we just don't have the room to store things anymore.

No matter what it is, though, it scares the beegeebers out of me - when I remember to be scared!

Berni said...

They say if you know that you have forgotten then your okay. I can forget what I was going for between the kitchen and the living room but at least I know it. I think it is fairly normal as you get older especially if you are thinking or are aware of a lot of other things going on at the same time. Frustrating though

Travis Cody said...

I think it's actually much healthier not to worry about health issues. The best any of us can do is develop healthy eating and exercise habits.

Oh...and don't step out in front of buses or trucks.

terri said...

I worry about my memory too. I often have trouble recalling names, dates, and other important things. And I used to be so good with those things too. But I don't know if I'm really losing my memory or just have SO much stuff floating around my head that some of it loses importance.