Many, many years ago my wife gave me a birthday card. I thought it was funny, so I laughed. She said that she couldn’t do it anymore; she had given me that same card ten years in a row. I told my family to raise a finger for each time they heard a joke was about to repeat. Many times they raised both hands and flashed ten fingers at me. The other day I told a joke and screwed up the punch line -- a rare thing for me.
In my experience, there seems to be three types of memory lost: the first is a total loss of memory of names, events or scheduled events; the second is a mixed match of memories (not remembering correctly or mixing two separate events together); and finally, false memories (remembering things that never happened – duh).
To help myself remember (total loss) or remind myself of future events, I post notes to remind myself, mark up my calendar and use visual aids. I put them on my computer, refrigerator, and kitchen counters. I even put outgoing mail near the door where I’ll see it as I leave the house. I do struggle with names but, then, I always did. I often run into a person I haven’t seen for a while and can’t remember their name. I have on a couple of occasions, let the dog out and forgot to let her back in. She growled at me for two days. I don’t mind so much forgetting some events; somethings are better off forgotten.
Sometimes I would relate antidotes about friends only to be corrected and told I had the wrong person in the story or got the facts wrong. Now when I tell a story, I just say it happened to someone I knew. Years ago, I told one humorous story to so many people that when I ran into the subject of the story and was told it wasn’t him but was someone else, I asked him not to tell anyone.
What I really hate is remembering things that never happened. For example, I was trying to remember if I took my morning meds and decided that I did. Later, I discovered that I hadn’t taken: them. I was remembering something that never happened. Sometimes my wife will ask if I saw a particular TV show or movie and I’ll say I did only to discover later that I hadn’t seen it at all – a false memory.
As we grow older, our memories are often the best things we have. I hate losing them. They say the memory is the second thing to go as you get old. I forgot what the first thing was. I thought I’d better write this article before I forgetaboutit.