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January 14, 2012

As Time Goes By: Losing the keys to memory, one sip at a time

As you age, there will come an eventful day when you will forget something.

It might be a very simple thing but you will suddenly realize that what you thought was in your memory has just slipped your mind. I remember remarking that I couldn't remember something, and my daughter asked, "Did it slip out your ear?"

Usually it starts with something simple like suddenly realizing that you have misplaced your car keys. You know this because they are not in your pocket.

You scamper all over the house looking -- at first the search starts with you walking and glancing around but as time passes the searching becomes more frantic and reckless. As you depart from an organized search your results take on the appearance of ransacking. Clothes are scattered everywhere. In the parlance of a mystery novel your room looks "tossed."

At the very peak of your frustration you stand by the back door, and looking at the family car you suddenly realize that you had used the keys to back the car out of the garage.

A terrible thought hits you: Is this lapse of memory the start of Alzheimer's?

A dear friend recounted the story where she decided to call someone and dialed the number. When someone answered, "Hello," she suddenly realized that she had forgotten the name of the person she was calling.

"Who is this?" asked the mystery person. The dialer couldn't remember, so she asked, "Do you recognize who I am?" The person answering the phone said, "No I do not recognize your voice." There was a long pause and then a "click" as a phone was hung up.

Don't you just wish that you could be a fly on the wall after that phone call? The person doing the calling was probably saying, "Darn." The person getting the call was probably thinking, "Nut!"

I remember one time when I became aware that I was standing in the middle of the basement of our home without any clue of how or why I got there. You stand there trying to think of a sane reason for your actions but come up empty-handed.

There was a time when I figured out that keys would get legs and hide on me just to be mean. I try to avoid thoughts of a sinister plot on my sanity.

The way to overcome the lost-key syndrome is to become methodically organized. Just like being an automaton regarding putting down toilet seats, you become faithful about always hanging up your keys in the exact same place _ the key caddy behind the back door of the house.

When you do lose something, there are all kinds of people who are most eager to assist you. You may have lost your keys and you declare it by saying, "I can't find my car keys."

The eagerly helpful person will leap to the rescue by asking, "Where did you leave them last?" You must choke down the urge to answer, "Hey stupid, if I knew that they wouldn't be lost."

The other golden nugget of a response involves the fact that the keys will be found at the last place you look. This is really an inane thought that the eagerly helpful person will say, "Wherever that last place is that you might look for them, look there first and you will save a lot of time." If this is said in a parking lot you must stifle the urge to run them over with the car, which has the car keys in the ignition. (Remember?)

The most fun that you could have is watching a woman go through a pocketbook looking for "something" that she lost.

First, you must be aware that "pocketbook" is a total misnomer. It may be called a "pocketbook" but it is not the size of a pocket nor for that matter a book. (Better to picture Mary Poppins pulling a floor lamp out of her carpetbag.)

My wife, Diane, has a magic pocketbook, like Mary Poppins.

You are at a play and start to cough. You ask her for a cough drop _ instantly after reaching into her bag she produces an assortment and you are faced with a choice. One brand would have done the trick but multiple choices will only result in confusion. Will you make the right choice? Will you stop coughing or continue to receive dirty looks from half the audience?

You are hiking in Hawaii and you feel a blister forming on your heel. With wounded eyes you turn to Diane and ask, "Have you got anything for a huge blister on my heel?" She reaches into her bag and she pulls out a huge bandage, a big hat pin and a miniature bottle of vodka.

You sit on a rock; she removes your shoe and sock, uses the vodka to sterilize the needle, breaks the blister and applies the bandage. She then gives you the bottle of vodka to be consumed to ease the pain. Your last thought before you become impervious to pain is, "What a wife!"

Some day if you call me and I ask "Who's that?" do not take offense if I don't recognize your voice. With the present of a small bottle of vodka we can rectify the situation and be old friends before the last swallow.

Henry Geerken is a three-time NYSUT award-winner writing humorous articles addressing retiree and senior citizen concerns. Geerken also writes for Sail-World, World Cruising Newsletter, regarding his many humorous sailing episodes through the years. He can be reached by e-mail at hgeerken@stny.rr.com. 'Senior Scene' columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/ seniorscene.

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