Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What we had for breakfast

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It’s as frequent a daily occurrence as my morning shave and that is a moment of middle-age man memory fog or, as one of my clients calls it, a case of CRS (can’t remember stuff). It goes with the turf at this stage of my life and I find comfort knowing I’m not alone. There’s also extra comfort to be had when witnessing younger people go blank in the mental memory department although the reasons for their fog are probably different than mine.

I’m aware of the difference between short-term and long-term memory loss, the former being what periodically “afflicts” me while the latter is a symptom of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. The short-term stuff can be further stratified into a couple other non-scientific categories.

There’s “selective forgetfulness” that my wife reminds me I have when it comes to things I’ve promised to do or not do again. She reminds me that I don’t have a memory problem because I always seem to remember to find time to exercise and relax. This is true.

There is also aloofness, absent-mindedness or carelessness that seems to be different. Take my wife, for example, who is constantly “losing” her cell phone or car keys. I don’t believe it’s a memory problem when she “loses” her keys. The truth of the matter is that she has seldom ever lost anything and neither do we; rather, we momentarily forget where we’ve placed our lost items.

Why do I take joy when witnessing another middle-age comrade in a thick moment of memory loss? Maybe it’s the internal laughter that kicks off endorphins in my mind, much like a runner who experiences a “runner’s high”. Or maybe it’s because I get momentary relief from my own memory-lapse misery, finding delight in someone else’s plight.

Yet in the same breath, I always rise to the occasion and help my memory loss-stricken comrade by guiding him or her out of that deep fog they are experiencing, much like a father coaching his son or daughter take their first ride on that training wheels-free shiny red bicycle. My “you can do it” comforting facial expression provides emotional food for the soul for my forgetful comrades when looking in their eyes, as I remain ever so patient like when listening to someone who stutters with their speech.

Eventually, that person, as do I, comes out of the dark bottom of this forgetfulness abyss and is able to complete the thought that, moments earlier, had vanished in bright daylight. As they or I bask in our glory that we were able to pull it off once again, I always conclude the bonding experience that we just had with a comment that always brings a laugh – that all is well if we can remember what we had for breakfast.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum


Jim Carlson said...

Hi Ed..I am always interested in discussion regarding memory. I believe memory has a lot to do with other physical conditions that people incur. It is always a pleasure to read your blog.

Excuse me what did you say your name was ?

Jim Fritzsche said...

Ed - I never forget to read your blog, unless you remind me.

I also have a client that uses the acronym CRS to describe his forgetfullness. However the third word isn't "stuff."

Regards, Jim

Michael Wilmer said...

I'm in the middle of moving my 90-year-old Dad and 84-year-old Mom to live with my 63-year-old sister, so the memory issue is almost a daily topic for conversation. As the "youngster" in this group, I like to think I have an edge on the others, but the truth is that we all depend on our collective memory to get us through. Heaven knows we'll need God's help when we lose Mom and Dad!