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Musings: I Don’t Remember

Miriam Klein Adelman

“Hi,” the voice on the message machine said. “Wait, who did I just call?” the voice continued. Silence. “Uh. Well, by now you know who I am anyway”

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

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W hen you hit a certain age, the fear of dementia is a lot more real than say, when you’re 25 and forgot where you placed your car keys. At 25, there are myriad reasons to forget where you put your keys: You’re pregnant, just had a baby, you have lots of babies. When you turn 40, 45, 50, lapses of memory become foggier and scarier.

I arrive home and don’t remember the numbers of my door combination. I have to call up my son in yeshivah to ask him what it is. Or I’m on the phone, telling someone my phone number. In the middle, I pause. Is it 8439 or 8349? I don’t remember and so I suggest they try both variations.

For years I’ve been told, first from a neurologist and then from other getting-older folk, that this memory loss is different. It’s normal. It is not due to early-onset Alzheimer’s, it’s because we have so much on our minds that we can’t store everything, so we start forgetting here and there. I bought into that notion. It certainly beat the alternative. Especially if you can’t do anything about the alternative.

Yesterday, however, I had a particularly disturbing incident. I was babysitting for my grandchild. My married kids were at a convention, so they weren’t coming home until the early hours of the morning. I put the baby to sleep in my younger daughter Mindy’s room, but instructed her that if the baby woke up, she should call me, no matter the time. At 3 a.m., my cell phone rang, although I didn’t hear it.

The next day, my husband and Mindy told me what happened. My husband answered my phone. It was Mindy, calling from her bedroom. The baby was crying. My husband relayed the message, I said okay, and my daughter brought the baby to my bed. I held the baby and not long afterward, my married couple returned and Mindy took the baby from me. I said, “Wait a second, don’t forget his pacifier.” That was it.

This would be a boring little story, certainly not one worthy of an article, if only I would have remembered any of what had transpired. Unfortunately, I don’t. I don’t remember saying anything, I don’t remember holding a baby (truly scary!), I don’t remember handing Mindy his pacifier.

When I arrived at work this morning, I turned on the computer and entered the password. “Incorrect password entered” appeared on the screen. “Someone must have changed the code,” I muttered to myself, “and forgotten to tell me.”

I called my boss, but couldn’t get through. Meanwhile, clients were arriving and I needed access to the computer. The line was piling up and I still couldn’t reach my boss. I was getting annoyed.

After marking down everybody’s information and assuring them I would enter it into the computer as soon as I received the new password, I tried calling one more time. This time, my boss picked up. “I told you the new password on Friday, before you left,” she said.

“I don’t remember having that conversation at all,” I said.

“You told me you were going to enter it into your phone right away.”

“I don’t remember that at all,” I repeated. 

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 583)

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