When I sat down at the computer keyboard, it took me a few seconds to try to remember what I was planning to write about with these words. A hand needed to be raised to my chin and I found my brow had to be furrowed in order for me to bring to mind the topic.
My delay in remembering made unsurprising sense to me, in a confirming sort of way. The column, you see, concerned forgetting things.
I fear sometimes that I’m becoming my mother.
The chance that I could be following in her mental footsteps is understandably disconcerting. By the time we lost her a few years ago, dementia had turned my mother’s initial momentary lapses in memory into a completely forgotten life.
HOW IT STARTED
Science would say that the worry is groundless. According to a professor, Nick Fox, on the website for the Alzheimer’s Society, “the majority of dementia is not inherited” and “most cases of Alzheimer’s disease are not inherited” either.
But, “having Alzeimer’s disease in the family does very slightly increase the chance of people in later generations getting the disease,” said Fox, adding that rare cases of inherited dementia do not skip a generation.
So, although the chance is small, I still could be my mom. Which is why in conversations with friends or family members I sometimes feel uneasy enough passing on information to add the query “did I already tell you about this?”
The question. That’s how it started with Mom. Then came the period of the apology. “Forgive me if I mentioned this before ...” Eventually, she forgot to ask the question or show contrition, and just got on with a steady stream of consciousness that repeated itself.
I dread a day I no longer will worry about forgetfulness.
There are days when, short of feeling anxious about it, a healthy concern over getting dementia seems almost advantageous in finding motivation to do all those inconvenient but healthful things that some say could prevent the disease.
I eat more salads, figuring that mixing them in with burgers and fries might average out to a more healthy diet. I walk up stairs instead of taking elevators and mow my own lawn for the exercise. I seldom salt food to try to keep my blood pressure in check. I stopped smoking decades ago, and I can remember doing it, so at least I’ve got that memory going for me.
I keep my mind active, as well, with crossword puzzles and trivia quizzes. My hobbies are sailing, snow skiing and Sudoku.
Still, I forget movie titles and the names of film stars. I lose track of the birthdays of friends. And, if asked in the morning, I occasionally even have trouble immediately calling to mind what I ate for dinner the night before.
Page 2 of 2 - Oh, it all comes back to me in short time. And, I am not alone in my feeble attempts to remember things that would have been on the tip of my tongue not too many years ago. The same thing seems to happen to those I call, with more meaning now, old friends. There is reassurance being forgetful in their company.
We joke that our minds are just too filled with years-old sports scores and favorite movie lines. Our mental closets need to be purged, so we have room to store new memories in spaces previously taken up by unneeded recollections from our past.
Spring is coming. I wouldn’t mind a little memory cleaning. I just don’t want to move entirely out of my mental house.
Reach Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-580-8303.
On Twitter: @gbrownREP