I have become a flake in my older age. This little fact bothers me because I didn’t used to be one. In fact, it was a matter of pride which could lead someone to point out perhaps that’s the reason why I’ve been humbled. But we’ll leave that for a discussion to be filed in the “Never Gonna Happen” file. I never needed to write anything down as long as I was focused on something when it was told to me or shown to me, I remembered it. Darn near forever. Sometimes I wished I could forget. Even though I used to carry a planner around it was empty. I guess I just thought the nerd look worked for me.
But I remember the incident that showed me my vulnerability. I had just moved into another singles ward in Utah. It was to be my last one because my 30th birthday was approaching. The executive secretary called me and set an appointment for me to meet the bishop. Our appointment was set for the following Thursday. I didn’t write it down because I never wrote appointments down. I made a mental note of it and was excited that the bishop took the initiative to meet his new members.
Thursday rolled around and I spent the evening watching television. I didn’t even think of the appointment until an hour and a half after it was supposed to take place. It unnerved me. I had never missed an appointment before because I forgot about it. Not only did I forget but I had to call and reschedule. That was a fun phone call. The more I tried to explain the more I sounded like… a flake. That was a great reputation to get out of the gate. It took some time before the bishop trusted me with a calling.
That wasn’t even ten years ago and my memory retaining abilities have dwindled increasingly fast. Just today my boss asked me to do something. I repeated it to make sure I understood what she wanted. By the time I got to my desk the instruction had evaporated only to consolidate again while I ate supper. “Dang it,” I mumbled. I’ve been repeating it over and over in my mind so that I will do it first thing tomorrow.
Some unhelpful advice I’ve received from unsolicited sources: write it down. If I wrote it down I would have to keep track of where I wrote it. If I could remember where I leave all my to-do lists then couldn’t I just remember what it is that needs to be written? I have several dry-erase boards strategically placed in my home and each has several lists. Someday, they might match and contain the same list. Wouldn’t that be a great feat?
For some reason, my brain latches on to the frivolous. Ask me who starred in the 1934 classic, “It Happened One Night,” and before you could spit out the sentence I could tell you, Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable. By the way, it was directed by Frank “It’s a Wonderful Life” Capra and won all the big awards at the Oscars that year. But even the frivolity is getting slower to load from the database.
There are important things to remember. Things like details about and conversations with the people in my life. That database has been freezing up on me from time to time. Like a cruel trick names slip away and don’t return until the wee hours of the morning. Chores that I started in the morning are finished right before bed time.
Then there are the critical things to remember. Things that are absolutely vital to remember. Such as noticing the last roll of toilet paper in the bathroom is less than half way full. That’s when I start to chant, “Need more TP.” Until I leave the room. By the time I open the door, the chant is forgotten and I’m heading in the opposite direction of the hall closet.
I miss the confident days of memory retention. It hasn’t been fun to relate to the same jokes about forgetfulness that my parents laugh at. I am not old. I’m just a flake.