“Don’t forget,” my wife reminds me, “tomorrow is your mother’s birthday.”
But then I doubt that my mother remembers either. It is sad but I doubt if she remembers her own name. Still that is not the point. What matter is not that she remembers her birthday, it is that others do.
So we resolve to visit her.
It is a two hundred mile round trip and when we arrive she will not know who we are. She has forgotten us all. She has forgotten everything about her life – even who she is.
Still, there are a few things that she remembers perfectly. She can recall every lyric to every song that she once knew. It is as if the eraser of Alzheimer’s has spared the region of her memory where music resides.
So I never challenge her to remember who I am or who she is. All I say is, “Mom, can you sing ‘Tell Me Why’?”
And she does.
Tell me why the stars do shine
Tell me why the ivy twines
Tell me why the sky’s so blue
and I will tell you just why I love you
Because God made the stars to shine
Because God made the ivy twine
Because God made the sky so blue
Because God made you that’s why I love you
When she sings, she remembers how to smile. When she sings, she forgets how to be confused and afraid. When she sings, she forgets that she forgets.
Still it worries me that I forget things.
I have been forgetting more and more since I retired. I forget appointments. I forget where I put things. I forget what day of the week it is.
I suppose I forget things because there is less of a reason to remember them. It is a rare thing to have to be anywhere and there is no difference between weekdays and weekends in my life. The only thing that is critical is that one cannot buy beer on Sunday in Minnesota. For that you have to drive to Iowa – which thankfully is not far.
And while I am slowly losing my edge, my wife has decided that she will make up for it. She always remembers whose birthday is coming up. She always remembers when it is Sunday and where I last put my razor least I use the fact that I lost it as an excuse to not shave before church.
She updates the calendar and makes sure that our doctor and dental appointments fall on the same day at the hour – least I forget.
So who needs a memory when you are married to one?
But it bugs me that I always forget and it bugs her that she has to remind me.
The next morning before driving to the Twin Cities, my wife stows her sunglasses in the little compartment between the visors. It is cloudy, so she doesn’t need them.
“Now,” she says, ” it is your job to remind me where I put them.”
It’s my job because I do not forget little details like that – and she does.