Monday, November 10, 2008


Until lately, I've always had a very good memory. Almost eidetic, I could remember who stood where in a conversation, and what was said, nearly word-for-word. This is one reason it annoys me when Norm sums up a 45 minute phone conversation with his sister in 3 sentences, and then later (days later) tells me, "Didn't I tell you about... ".

Anyway, my memory now is shot to hell. I and my therapist think it occurs because I'm dissociated at the time. I've bought things I don't recognize. I've told people information that would better be kept private. Just last week I mailed Norm's sister a card, with "something" inside it, but damned if I can remember what. We had just seen her in Gassaway (she lives in Kentucky) so did she ask me for something? A photo? I don't remember hunting up a photo out of my multi-generational boxes. What else? Genealogy information? I am too embarrassed to ask her, hoping it will come to me.

When I worked, near the end I was training my replacement, who had worked at the Med Center for 25 years, but always for the same person. I had worked there 25 years, for 6 different researchers in 3 different departments. We would go to a lab, and I would say, oh, this used to be Dr. Smith's lab. And she would say "huh? Who?" and it always surprised me. You know you've worked in a place too long (or lived in a neighborhood too long) when you call places by the names of people who long ago moved on.

I have always, though, been bad at remembering names after an introduction. In the horse or dog world, I would remember the horses'(or dogs') names forever, but the owners? Zip. Go figure.

Even more perplexing is when people that I see on a daily basis call me by the wrong name. One lady I corrected 'Virginia" to the correct "Marilyn" said offhandedly, oh, I knew it was one of those states. One faculty member who called me "Joyce" all the time we worked together I never did correct. What would be the point? I always reacted to being called my sister's name, after all.

But the worst thing is when your loved ones forget who you are. My FIL, toward the end, thought I was my mother, and I felt sad, but I let it slide. He didn't recognize his grandchildren, and once asked why his daddy didn't come to visit him. My own father, placed in the same nursing home in which my mother had died some years before, put up a real fuss about wanting to see her. Finally convinced she was dead, he demanded to know why I never told him. I described the funeral, the pastor, the graveside service where one of the deacons sang "Amazing Grace". the dinner at the church afterward, NONE of which he remembered. Near the end, he forgot where he was, who I was, and why he was there. It was anguishing, even though I knew it was very common.

Please, don't let me go like that, tarnishing every ones' memories of what a funny, smart, generous, irreverent person I really am.

Today's bumper sticker: "I'm marching to a different accordion."

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