Granby Leader Mail- 1958
For years my late grandmother, Mary Louise Deller Knight, would repeat her life stories and anything else that she felt she needed to say. At first I would remind aging Mary of her increasing repetition, and then I would just nod my head and focus on other things.
To add to the situation, Mary also forgot how long she kept things in the freezer. During the years of increasing memory loss she had created her own breakfast specialty called ‘Freeze Dried Waffles’. Sometimes I would hide them in my pocket after she served them, and then skip them across the Yamaska River like stones. Mary Louise never really got any better with her memory, and I hoped that I would not have the same issues.
The year is now 2015 and I am younger than Mary Louise was in the prime of her ‘broken needle’ story telling era. I can recall anything right down to the finest detail of whatever happened to me thirty to forty years ago; but ask me what I did five minutes past and I am at a loss.
I began to worry I might be getting Alzheimer’s and then someone explained the difference to me. Not finding my keys – that was one thing, but if I did not know what a key was, then that was an issue. This morning I sat down and wrote what I needed at the store, on the top of my hand. I have long rid myself of hand written notes as I can’t find those either, unless I stick them in my sports bra. Cash register receipts, keys and credit cards also store quite nicely inside that spandex athletic bra.
Years ago in the subway, I pulled my disposable Tracfone out and stared at it. The back looked quite odd and I couldn’t figure it out. Suddenly part of my phone was handed to me by a woman who realized I had no idea what was going on. Of course; the back plastic cover had fallen off!
I thanked her and told her how much I appreciated it and how forgetful I was sometimes. She told me not to worry because she was exactly the same. Her cell phone had broken one day and when she took it back to the Verizon store she had literally begged them to replace it with the same model. They told her that her phone was outdated, no longer available and end of story, much to her horror.
She finally received a new phone and told me she sat there for days trying to figure it out. Only when a neighbor loaned the frustrated woman her high school aged son to help her was she finally able to use it. She longed for the days of being able to buy something with only one sheet of instructions. I laughed and told her these days you needed a PhD to operate a food processor. She smiled and said,
“I do have a PhD, and I still can’t figure anything out without calling a 1-800 number to India.”
She continued sharing stories and told me not to worry, as we are not alone in this world of memory loss. I shook my head and realized how I have turned into my Grandmother.
Why do I still keep hard candies in a dish like she did? I have cabinets full of things no one really wants to touch, along with a mountain of plastic bags all of Carleton Place could share. My couch is not covered in plastic, but I still have company towels in the bathroom. I read stories on the internet, but long to go through piles of dusty Reader’s Digest just for the memories.
I smell like vapor rub now on a daily basis because of knees that no longer have cartilage, and people tell me I look just like my Grandmother now. Nothing wrong with that, but what happened and when? I vowed on a daily basis I would never be like my parents and grandparents, but I am. No matter what we think, they are always with us– everywhere we go and in everything we do. They are living on through us and with us– and maybe, thank goodness for that.