Over the last few months I’ve been forgetting little things. Last night it was the name ‘Nina Simone’. Not the person, just the name. Before that it was the name of a shape, the shape was a sphere. I had to ask my wife.
Other things I’ve forgotten are the middle name of my father who died in 1976 at the age of 57, the dog’s name, where I went to college in the 1980s. Nothing big, nothing necessarily important, certainly not vital. Small memories, evaporating.
These losses impend terrifyingly on or at me. More so than the threat of blindness or deafness. I think I’m going to have to get tested for early stage dementia.
It engulfed my grandfather who hid his growing fear behind his sightlessness. My diabetes is also a hotbed where vascular dementia can stifle and destroy the growth of healthy brain connections. I saw this happen to my mother, who denied it, and fought hard against her new reality.
That reality or set of realities, because the terms were shorn of any workaday reason, looked from the outside like a show initially. All the bewilderment and fear were camouflage as self-righteous outrage:
“Of course I’ve eaten today! I am not a child! Leave me alone!”
In the same minute the veil of forgetting would fall, “Go away. I am hanging up the phone. I have to write to your aunt Julia!”
Julia had been dead for a decade. The first time this happened I said to my mother, “but Julia’s dead, mum”. It was my understanding that my mother knew this. The fact was that some of my mother, one of my mothers, knew this. Her reaction was to create an involved response that ended in angered outrage and the phone slammed down into its cradle.
A friend of mine died recently after a long illness and I said to another friend, “Well, that’s the first of us”, with that gallows inflection beloved of my lot.
She said, “No, that would be Paul remember”.
Paul was an old friend. Paul was gone by a few years now. I’d forgotten.
So, today, I’m edgy, concerned. My memories are conflicting; my genetic inheritance and family bothers are calling loudly as other pieces of my past fragment and melt like candy floss in warm water.
It’s probably a passing problem. Nothing to be overly concerned about.
The image is of my mother from 2010. She asked me to take photographs of her. She didn’t tell me why.