When I was in my 30s, my college roommate told me that her aunt used to go into a room and then not remember why she went there. We thought this was terribly amusing, and much hilarity ensued. If we met somewhere, we’d ask each other if we knew why we were there. Hardy, har, har, har. Then it started happening to us.
I guess it’s a common occurrence when you reach a certain age. There’s an old joke that says older people spend a lot of time thinking about the hereafter. You go into a room and think, “Now, what am I here after?” I recently heard that someone wanted to invent a Senior GPS that would tell you not only how to get somewhere but why you wanted to go there in the first place.
My memory is pretty much shot, so I write all my appointments on my calendar, and I try to look at the calendar first thing in the morning. The problem now is trying to decipher what I wrote.
One day says, “Mat, pillows, blanket.” Huh? Am I supposed to outfit myself for a sleepover? If so, with whom? I hope Mat’s rich and good looking. I finally figured out this was for a yoga session, but there wasn’t room on the yoga day, so I’d written it on another day, just assuming I’d remember when it was for. Wrong. I didn’t.
Another gives the address of Deerfield Valley Rescue. But I thought rescue services were supposed to come to you if you had an emergency. Why would I want to go to them? The next day, I remembered. They were giving COVID boosters, but it turned out so was my doctor with whom I had an appointment the next day, so I forgot about Deerfield Valley Rescue.
One day says just, “Ex.” Did I have something for Fed Ex? If so, what? No wait! Maybe that’s an online exercise class I joined and then kept forgetting to attend.
At the time one scribbles these time-saving abbreviations, they seem quite clear. Later they’re not.
Another day says, “Jack.” But I don’t know anyone named Jack, and I certainly didn’t make a date with him. It finally came to me; my brain does retain information, but it just takes eons for it to get out. A repairman was working on my gas hot water heater and told me his name, and I wrote it down on the first piece of paper I could find, which was the calendar.
This is the problem with memory joggers. You have to remember where you put them ... and what they mean. If your handwriting is as bad as mine, this can be difficult. Someone once told me I should have been a doctor. I asked why, hoping they’d cite my keen intellect, superb listening skills and problem-solving ability, and they said, “Because your handwriting is so inscrutable.”
I’m slowly learning to put more information on the calendar, but it’s difficult to find room to write, “9:30 a.m., Dr. Quack whom I wanted to see because I think that rattlesnake bite is getting infected.” Instead I write, “9:30 D Q bite,” which seems quite clear when I write it, and then I spend the next week wondering what it means.
We need new types of memory joggers. Strings on fingers don’t cut it for me. Notes on my calendar are a little better, but not perfect. I suppose some kind of computerized calendar with more room to write might be better, but I wouldn’t see it unless I turned the computer on. My paper calendar is where I see it when I go by the phone to get into the living room, where I drink my coffee. Yes, I mean a wall phone. With a dial. How quaint!
I understand that younger people live on their cellphones, but I’m not there yet. I do have a Tracfone for emergencies, but I don’t use it for regular communication, as where I live in Halifax is in a dead zone, although my old Tracfone worked here just fine. The new one doesn’t.
Maybe the solution would be a robot like R2D2, who would follow me around and nag me: “Did you take your pills?” “Do you remember your blood draw this afternoon?” “Your column is due tomorrow.”
I wonder if you can buy R2D2s on Amazon.