It was 11:45 a.m. on a Friday morning in January 2009, and I was having phone conversation with our one son, Eric. The next thing I knew, I was picking myself up off the floor 20 minutes later adorned with a fat lip and a few minor bumps and bruises. I’d had a seizure. I knew what was going on before and after but completely lost the in-between. The crisis event put brain function and memory squarely on my mind. Fact is, that organ betwixt the ears has been a focus of attention for years.
Religiously each morning, with The Lima News firmly gripped, I turn with a pen in hand, to the section where the Jumble word puzzle can be found. So I’m told, evidence exists indicating that such an activity helps exercise the brain. Where I live there’s a sense of urgency for this and other “preventive medicines.”
So as not to forget, when I think of something I need to bring home from the office, I stop whatever I’m doing and immediately place the item in my parked car insuring it won’t be left behind. Whenever a meeting, activity, game, or event needs scheduled, I make dutiful haste to inscribe it into my Google calendar.
Occasionally, when an idea pops into my head for a song or sermon theme for some Sunday morning down the road, I’ll immediately pass the thought onto one of my office administrators with the reminder that when the time comes they remind me. After a phone or text conversation takes place and I offer my assurance to pray for a need expressed, I remember to straightaway attend to that commitment as soon as I press the “hang up” button.
Instructions for what to get from the grocery store on the way home can include, from my wife, three reminders before breakfast, a sticky note on the door to the garage, and a couple text messages later in the day. I’ve been forced by my wife, Linda Rae, to get hearing aids at the “youthful” age of about sixty to minimize the frequency of my being able to use the excuse, “you never told me that.” Hardly a day goes by without at least one sentence from my beloved beginning with the phrase, “Ken, don’t forget to.”
While preparing for my early morning bicycle rides, I am extremely attentive to executing the plethora of tasks necessary before “hitting the road.” The list is countless with charging and chilling, pumping and packing, headlights and helmet, not to mention, remembering a cyclometer and cell phone. I should make a list as every once in a while I head out still in my pajamas. Just kidding! It takes about ten miles before my brain stops hurting.
I’ve retained more than 3,000 text messages between my wife and me, not only because I love her, but to aid us in recalling whether I came home for lunch and fed the dog or not on April 27, 2015. Who wouldn’t want to keep that kind of detail from being forgotten over time?
The handy-dandy Inkpad application on my phone is often in use to jot down the numerous occasions that necessitates a “note to self.” I don’t trust myself to remember the ever-increasing usernames and passwords, and so whenever forced to be created or recreated, they are expeditiously logged in a safe location.
On a certain level, the above is some of what we do as we age and the available space on the “hard drive” of our brains gets gobbled up. We mustn’t forget all that’s been lost, fragmented or overwritten, too.
Quite regularly I can be reminded of the benefits of getting a sound sleep, believed to empty and clear out accumulated brain-waste. It’s the anatomical version of those computer applications that get rid of useless files to be replaced by more beneficial ones. This also serves as an excuse by my wife as to why I can’t have our 80 lbs. of dog sleep in the bed with us all night.
Open our refrigerator at home and one can occasionally find a large cauliflower severed in half. This occurs not because we like big bites of vegetables with our dill dip. The reason is, my wife first uses the cauliflower for an adult version of “show and tell” as the appearance of the sizeable bisected veggie mimics the human brain.
There is reason for our cranial disposition. Memory is in the brain and regularly on my mind due in large part to my wife’s vocation. For about two decades she has passionately and compassionately worked for the Northwest Ohio Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. And yes, she has a recurring habit of bringing “work” home with her, and for that I am reminded to always be grateful.
Whether formally employed or not, she will likely be active in the battle for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia. Likewise, she will be unceasing in her gracious aid to caregivers alongside those who’ve been diagnosed. Just as a reminder, I hope to always enjoy the comic section in the newspaper and cauliflower from the refrigerator.
Ken Pollitz moved to Ottawa in 1991 as mission-developer/pastor of New Creation Lutheran Church. His biweekly column provides insights and viewpoints from Putnam County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org