Can You Remember?

Coleman Application_page 3 1In most ways, I take after my father much more than my mother.  I inherited his sense of humor, his passion for reading, his deep love of animals, and (unfortunately) his sagging neck line and tendency to be a bit wide in the middle.  My mother and I look nothing alike, and I have none of her teaching, sewing, or decorating skills.  But there is one trait that my mother and I do share: we both have astonishingly bad memories.  And that’s beginning to worry me a little.

When I was young and my mom wanted my attention, she always called the names of my sisters first, and that was when she was looking straight at me.  Sometimes she even worked in the name of one of our dogs before she got to, “I mean….Ann!”  I never doubted that she actually knew who I was, it just took her a while to come up with the right name.  And honestly, I understood that, because I operate the exact same way.

I once stuck a glass bottle of Coca Cola in the freezer in order to get it cold enough to drink, and then forgot all about it until that evening, when someone opened our freezer door and discovered that it had exploded in there.  As a young mother, I walked out of my house without remembering my keys so many times that my son would not only ask me if I had the keys before he would follow me out the door, he also insisted I show them to him.  He was only five at the time,  but I guess he’d had a little too much experience at being locked out.

I have a long history of forgetting appointments, and I shed my belongings the way a dog sheds hair as I go about my day.  I’ve left purses behind in restaurants,  walked out of supermarkets without the groceries I just paid for, and left lawn sprinklers on overnight.  (Thankfully, we don’t live in an area that is prone to drought.)  I never buy expensive sun glasses or umbrellas because I lose track of them so often.  And I’m just as bad at remembering names as my mother ever was.

The problem is that I’m starting to get a bit up there in age, which means that I’m getting to the point where people are going to be getting just a tad judgmental about my lack of memory skills.  Like my mother, I have had a bad memory all my life, and forgetting stuff is just normal for me.  But forgetfulness is also something that becomes concerning as people hit their twilight years (and rightfully so), but how can you notice that someone’s memory is slipping away when it’s barely been there to begin with?

IMG_0576 2My mother is at the age where I often accompany her to important visits, and I see the looks that she sometimes gets when she has problems remembering stuff.  And I know the time is coming when I’m going to be getting those looks as well.  Which probably explains why I can get a little defensive about my mother’s memory (or lack thereof), because I not only know it’s just who she is, but I realize it’s also who I am.

I know my mom well enough to know that she’s still quite sharp mentally, even if her counter is strewn with the notes to help her remember all the stuff she needs to remember.  And I’m there to speak up for her if need be.  But that leaves the question of who is going to speak up for me when I’m her age and waltzing out of the grocery store without my groceries.  I guess I just have to hope that my kids inherited their father’s memory so they’ll recall all those times when they were little and I forgot my house keys.  And know that it’s just me being me.

51 thoughts on “Can You Remember?

  1. My memory is fabulous for some things, horrible for others. I’ve always been that way… as far as I can remember anyway 🙂 . It is scary, though, to forget things as we get older. It’s probably nothing to worry about, but what if it is the start of a decline? Yikes!

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    • I know! I keep thinking I can get away with it for a while longer, but once I truly look like a little old lady, they are going to be sure I have dementia, and that’s it for me. And it is weird how I can remember some stuff so clearly (even back from early childhood) and other stuff just escapes me totally.

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  2. I remember from my first year of teaching that I could remember only the very good and the very poor students in my class. I had a long way to the staff room, where many of our teaching aids were stored. On my way to the staff room I often forgot what i was going to pick up. Now that was my memory as a young man. As you see, Ann, you had and still have the same memory problem, which is not necessarily related to getting older. Writing things down and making to do lists is a good idea at any age.hope this is a little bit of a consolation, Ann.

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    • It is consolation…thanks, Peter! I always write the important stuff down (just like my mother) because that’s how I can be sure I will remember it. Other than that, it’s a fifty/fifty chance. But I’ve always been that way, and I doubt it’s going to change!

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  3. Your son was already helping you at 5! 🙂 I’m sure he’ll be there for you when you need! ❤ I so have trouble remembering myself! Like when I walk briskly to another room in the house intent on something, and then forget what it is when I get there.

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    • My son has a strong self-preservation instinct! But I do think he will be there for me when I’m old, and so will my daughter. They have known me their whole lives, so my memory issues are something they are quite used to. And you wouldn’t believe how often I walk into a room and think, “now what did I come in here for?” Glad to know it’s not just me!

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    • Well, apparently if it is full of a carbonated beverage which expands when it freezes, then it does explode. Leaving a freezer full of glass shards stuck to everything with bits of frozen cola. Boy, did I get in trouble for that one!
      As for your mom, I think the question is, has she always been forgetful, or is this something new? If it is something new, there are tests they can give to see if there is an issue or not, if she’s willing to take them. But sometimes suggesting that takes a lot of tact, as it isn’t always well received. Good luck! She’s lucky to have a son who cares enough to notice and be concerned!

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  4. My daughter noticed a large orange pill amongst my stack of vitamins the other day and questioned what it was and why I took it. I sat the thinking but remembered a few minutes later that it was tumeric. She asked why I took it and again I just couldn’t recall. I finally remembered later that day. It was for memory improvement. I’m not kidding. Clearly it’s working soooo very well. I laughed and figured I would save myself the cash going forward. You can’t make this stuff up, but at least we can laugh about it! 😉

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  5. Memory is a funny thing. For some things I’m quite solid, but I couldn’t memorize something verbatim to save my life – never could. Nowadays, when I have the occasional senior moment it gives me pause to think that my mother really was losing her memory when she passed.

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    • Memory is very hard to measure, isn’t it? Some things stick with me, while others don’t. I do think it gets worse with age, but I actually am a little concerned that 20 years from now, when I have the same issues I’m having now, people are going to think it is due to my age. And not realize I’ve always been this way, just like my mom!

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  6. I relate to this because, although I am not forgetful in the same way as you, I often mix up first and last names when I’m telling a story. It leads to some hilarious results (just ask my husband). I tell my kids not to worry, though, because I’ve been doing it all my life. I think we will all be just fine in our later years (I’m already on my way) and we will have the same kind of help along the way.

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  7. My wife also runs through every name in the family (including the dog, and now the daughter-in-law) before landing on the one she wants, and she’s been doing it for years. I’m the one who will leave my wallet or sunglasses behind, and if it’s any consolation, my youngest (in his early 20s) is already known as the absent-minded one, as he is forever doing things like pouring a drink and then leaving the full glass on the counter. We’re all keeping an eye on the other…hopefully that will be enough.

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    • I think those of us with memory issues have to look out for each other, because we are the only ones who understand each other. As for names: I’m just like your wife. My son actually had to rename his dog Franklin, because the dog’s original name was Frankie. Which sounds a lot like his wife’s name, so guess what I kept calling his wife?

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  8. When you reach a certain age, everything little thing you forget or misplace becomes epic. Have you ever taken an elderly person to a hospital or nursing home? The questions they ask are hard, including doing math in your head and an awful lot of historical events. I have never done mental math and never know the date! Doomed…

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    • I know! That’s exactly what worries me. At my age, they just think I’m a ditz. But the time is coming very soon when they’re going to decide I belong in a memory care unit. It’s age discrimination, but I doubt that I’ll be able to get any lawyer to take it on…. LOL!

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  9. When Ryan was about 8 years old, he asked if he could go next door to Spicer’s (a five-and-dime store) while I shopped in Schnucks. I said yes, did my shopping, went home, put away the groceries, and then answered the phone a while later only to find it was Ryan calling me from Spicer’s.

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  10. They say memory can have a lot to do (as you probably know from reading as I am doing) from so many things. Some forgetfulness can be from having your head full from other stuff. If you are a worrier (which I believe you said you are), then if you are thinking/worrying about a million other things, then it is quite easy to forget the simple things. I find when I try to simplify and keep up my practice of meditation (such as it is), my mind is clearer so I can remember more easily. But I also use prompts to help me with certain things, like with names which I’m always forgetting. There are certain tricks you can use to help us recall or to ‘not forget’. And of course, I’m sure you know all the healthy ways to keep your brain in shape too. And then, we just hope in the end that we are are one of the lucky ones who keeps a sharp memory right up to the end!

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  11. Oh, I smiled as I read this post even though I felt for you. Memory is a funny thing. My daughter used to laugh when her grandmother-my mom-called her by her cousins’ names before she finally hit the right one. But now I find I do the same thing. I’m not sure that it’s because we have bad memory-more because our brain is so filled up with so much stuff! When I visit a friend of mine she always has about 10 posted notes on her front door. This, she says, is how she remembers everything. 👌😏

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  12. My memory got worse after a prescribed anti-depressant I had years ago had adverse effects on me, and it’s been getting worse with every year that passes. Absent-mindedness is the thing we all get as we age but it’s knowing which missing bits are age-related and which might be something else. That said, I do think it’s possible to get used to it and worry less about it. Or maybe that’s just me forgetting to worry!

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    • I’m certain that some drugs can effect our memory. But I still like the idea that you are just forgetting to worry! I mean, if we’re going to forget something, worry is rather high on the list, don’t you think? Thanks for the comment!

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  13. Sorry I’m so late with my responses but it’s been a crazy couple of weeks.
    Like you, I sometimes get concerned about my memory and that, while I’m still in the shower, I can’t remember if I washed my hair..:)
    But I think you have a bit of a head start on me..lol. I’m sure there will be somebody around to guide you when you lose it all together. Then we just have to make jokes about it, as long as we remember what we’re making jokes about and don’t repeat them twenty times because we can’t remember that we said them over and over again…:)
    Aging is so sweet😊

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    • I’ve done that, too! Washed my hair more than once, because I can’t remember if I’ve done it already…. I’m just hoping that my kids are going to be around when I’m old and can let people know I’ve always been this way, and it’s not just from aging. Even though I think I will probably get even worse as I age, and that’s a bit scary!!!
      And no worries on being late, I’m just glad to have you visit my blog whenever you do. Have a wonderful weekend, George!

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  14. This is SO relateable! Which the red squiggly line is telling me isn’t a word and either it is or should be. I’m exactly the way you are. I co-teach Earth Science now (I’m the ENL part of our duo) and my co-teacher is the exact opposite. Thank goodness. At the end of each of our classes he says to me “Do you have you phone. Where are your keys? Do you have your coffee? Do you have your bag?” Sounds silly, but one day…..just ONE DAY….he forgot to ask and I had to rush after him to open the classroom door for me since I had locked my keys plus everything else in there.
    I, too, worry as I get older. Not just because I don’t want people’s looks to change from “oh isn’t she cute and quirky” to “oh poor thing, she’s losing it.” But mostly because I see my memory getting much worse. And it’s scary.

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    • It is scary, for both those reasons! If my memory gets worse, then I’m in big trouble. But even if it stays the same, once I’m old they’re going to attribute it to my age, and ship me off to a memory care facility whether I need it or not. Glad to know I’m not the only one! I think some of us are just born that way. And it helps to remember that it is usually creative people who suffer from memory loss….

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