Monday, November 22, 2010

But I'm Sure I Did...

The drawer was full of Halloween cards.

This would have been fine if it was October 15th, or maybe the 20th, but it was November 2nd. I’d dipped into the drawer to select a “Get Well” card for a friend when I discovered the distinctive orange and black collection I’d purchased a month ago.

The other day, I asked my mother if she’d received the Halloween card I’d sent her. She said, “Um,” but when I said I’d sent it a few weeks ago, she recovered quickly and replied “Oh yes.” Her voice lacked conviction, but I gave it little thought. For I knew I’d signed, stuffed, stamped and mailed those cards.

Apparently not.

Then today, while conferring over the calendar with my brother-in-law about a date to take his mother out for her birthday, I saw a notation on November 7. Yesterday. “Ruth Ann at the Olive Garden,” I’d written. Oh no. I’d missed a visit planned, discussed and anticipated for over a month to a friend from Florida who was up for a brief stay in New England.

With my heart lodged somewhere in my stomach, I called Ruth-Ann and apologized, and apologized, and apologized. She was gracious and forgiving, and we were able to re-schedule a quick glimpse on another day. But still, these memory lapses are a worry.

For me, this is not a new development. Over ten years ago, a parent at the school where I work donated a baseball signed by legendary pitcher, Whitey Ford, as an auction prize for our spring benefit. To Yankees fans, the man is a hero. Reverently, I placed the ball in the locked closet in the headmaster’s office reserved for treasures.

As the benefit drew near, I went to the closet to review those prizes in hand… and was horrified to discover that the ball was missing.

I flew into search and self-defense mode as I asked the headmaster, the director of maintenance and my office co-workers, “Have you seen the Whitey Ford ball? I locked it in the close, but it’s gone!”

Of course I could not tell the donor. No. She would have had a fit.

My sainted husband leapt to his trusty computer and checked Ebay. Yes! There was a Whitey Ford ball available! The opening bid was pricey, but we had no choice. We were in.

So were a lot of other people. Too many. We were outbid.

A week before the auction, I ran into the ball’s donor at a party. Emboldened by a glass or two of wine, I confessed to the ball’s disappearance. She looked at me, bemused. “Lea, I haven’t given you the ball yet.”

Blessed relief! But soon, recognition of the smirch on my memory and credibility was evident as I thought of all my protestations of certainty over days past. “And I locked the ball in the closet myself!” Yes. Well.

For now, I have devised elaborate systems of memory ticklers. Calendar indicators for upcoming events begin with a heads-up reminder a week in advance. Lists, post-it notes and a small pocketbook pad provide additional prods. I leave messages for myself on my home and work phones, so many that often the blinking red light will signal four-to-five messages – all from me.

I know, I know. We all have too much to think about. Everyone has tales of Alzheimer’s-like behavior. And we all reassure each other with a laugh. But sometimes I wonder. My doctor says, “At your age, this is perfectly normal.”

Humph. At my age, indeed.

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