BETTY STREET: I would tell you, but I forgot


When I tried to get an appointment for my yearly mammogram, I was reminded that Medicare does not pay for one any earlier than at 12-month intervals. I paused momentarily and said, “I’m not on Medicare. I’m only 61.” The receptionist, who didn’t know me and was doubtless distracted by my gray hair, said, “Hmm, you’re right. How about next month on the 10th?”

Well, if remembering things were an indication of old age, I’d be near the top of the list. I have to make lists of things to do, things to buy, events, people to see, appointments and well, everything. And sometimes I forget what I did with my lists. Or I begin one grocery list, misplace it, re-start the list someplace else with different items and go to the store with that one, purchase the stuff and get home only to discover the first list and realize I forgot those crucial two or three items like milk and bread. I drive myself nuts.

I was sitting beside my sister-in-law at a basketball game recently and she asked me who this person was sitting in front of us. I couldn’t recall the person’s name and blamed it on my rotten memory.

Carole is about my age and also cannot remember things. She asked my opinion on where the things we have to remember go to. I told her I thought they dribbled out of our ears in invisible curls and we walk through them all the time. In my imagination, they weigh very little and we walk around knee-deep in what people have forgotten.

Gary has come up with a three-second rule: if he remembers something he has to do, he has to say it or write it down within three seconds or it’s gone until he remembers again, which could take hours or days. Saying it might mean interrupting a conversation; but he figures it’s better to be rude than to forget (again) to tell me that our son called and he’ll be home that night for supper at six or there’s an urgent teacher’s meeting and he needs something for a potluck supper by 5:30.

Good friend Bob Nelson has an alternative theory about forgetting things. He said this: “It’s not age, it’s mileage (I think). The more we get stored in that ‘hard drive,’ the harder it is to call it up on the screen.”

I much prefer thinking of myself as being mentally stuffed with too much than sliding into forgetful insensibility. Way to go, Bob!

Um … I just looked it up and a year ago I wrote a column about being forgetful. It has different examples, but the above typifies my subject matter exactly. Way to go, Betty!

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