Brody: The blows of memory loss

A resident in an assisted living went up to a staff person to ask a question. The worker answered the question, to which the resident said, “Now I know.” After a short pause though, the resident continued, “Now I forget.”

I’m afraid this is the way of old age and almost universal in a community such as assisted living. You begin to forget stuff.

Now, since living here for three and a half years, I am very aware of this truth, myself included. Especially since I was so ill and in the hospital so long, the leaks in my brain are larger. I began to analyze the way forgetfulness works.

In my case, the earlier the fact, the name or memory occurred, the less I forget it. I mean, I lost almost no early memory including seemingly unimportant ones such as the name of my little 5-year-old brother’s first girlfriend. Her name was Tinker Gaskin, a tiny little blond.

By comparison, when Gene and I lived four years in Salida, Colorado, just before moving here to assisted living, I cannot for the life of me remember our street address or the name of our next-door neighbor.

Another thing I figured out is I tend to recall happy days, joy-filled moments, while some of my saddest and hardest times have blurred in my memory.

Why is that? Is it possible that God, in His love of us, wants us to feel peace as we age so we cling to the sweet, the good, the love afforded us throughout our lives and He helps us to dull the time that hurt the most? Or is that too simple an answer?

I seem to remember little things. When Gene and I got married, we did so at sunset on a beach in a Florida state park. We all were dressed up and barefoot on the sand. It was beautiful and so sweet and a precious moment for us … but do you know what my most vivid memory of it is? Two raccoons were strolling at the waters edge. When they saw our gathering and the joy there, they stopped dead in their tracks, sat down on the beach and watched the entire thing. They didn’t move or make a sound and I loved their company.

Memory loss is difficult to live with and just as hard for people who love and care for them. It takes patience to repeat over and over something like how to shower safely, how to order food or stick to a daily routine.

Since I have been involved in the care with a friend here I bought an excellent book, “My Stroke of Insight” by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a doctor whose life work was helping stroke victims and ended up with a stroke herself and significant memory loss. After years of therapy and work, she was able to explain what happened to her and how it affected her brain. I recommend anyone interested in this problem to get this book and read it.

Meanwhile, I might write more as I learn about memory loss, but one thing I shall never forget — two big-eyed respectful raccoons who attended our wedding that pink-splashed December eve on the beach.

The view from the mountains is wondrous

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.