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The “pause” that depresses

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If you’ve read my column before, you know I’ve often engaged in self-deprecating humor. In other words, I’m not above making fun of myself in the pursuit of financial gain. Long time readers know that I have thin hair, I can’t grow tomatoes, and Martha Stewart Living, I am not. While my list of shortcomings is extensive, the one thing I had going for me was my memory.

I have a couple of ex-sons-in-law who hated my memory, and by the way, my memory had nothing to do with them becoming exes. There have been moments in our family when my memory was the stuff legends were made of, and I’ve been the “institutional” memory for many of the companies at which I worked. I just had a knack for remembering what happened when, but I’m starting to experience those pregnant pauses that leave both myself and the listener hanging on the edge of a cliff

I admit that when I was younger, I didn’t have the patience I should have with infirmities and bad memories. I certainly couldn’t envision myself that old, and certainly not unable to remember a phone number, a birthday or something as simple as what day of the week it was.

When my husband and my friend’s husbands retired, we working wives found it irritating that while we juggled work, home, extended family, and extracurricular activities blind-folded with our hands tied behind our backs, our guys suddenly found more than two tasks in one day overwhelming and their memories seemed to decline rapidly. I’m still not sure how much was “selective” memory loss, and how much was caused by lack of stimulation of the cognitive skills that work provides. I traversed the memory evolution with my late husband, and now I’m accompanying my gentleman friend who’s been retired a long time. I admit my patience hasn’t improved a whole lot, but karma has a way adjusting attitudes.

In fact, I’m starting to see similarities between myself and my gentleman friend’s little dog Jelly Bean who lost one eye and is blind in the other. She’s quite independent as long as she remains in her environment where she knows the smells, and where the furniture is located. Like Jelly Bean, I can breeze through many tasks as long as I’m in my environment with my own things, but put me in a strange motel bathroom, and the time it takes me to dress doubles.

As the result of widowhood and bariatric surgery, food pep for myself is quick and simple but when trying to cook for more than two, I become a doddering, confused old lady constantly apologizing for what I cooked. When my adult children are the meal’s recipients, I worry that the loss of skills that were so effortless in the past will prompt one of those “we need to talk about mom” meetings.

So, what’s the point of this column, you ask? This morning I went for a hair appointment at 11 a.m. When I returned afterwards and glanced at my calendar, I saw that the appointment was actually scheduled for 1 p.m. I called my gentleman friend and cried, “I’m turning into you!”

I promise to try to be more understanding when he thinks Tuesday is Wednesday, or to my chagrin, calls Navasota Madisonville. I like to tell myself that MY momentary confusion is because I’m so busy, but is it the body’s way of saying slow down? Or is it that omen of worse to come?

Well, until I figure it out, I’ll take solace in this quote about memory loss flow author James Hauenstein who wrote, “I have so much information stored up inside my brain that to add more I need to clean out my mind’s cache once in a while.”

Connie Clements is a freelance reporter for the Navasota Examiner and award-winning columnist. She writes feature news articles on a weekly basis and an opinion column as the mood strikes her.