Memory Banks

It was at a swanky reception at the Royal Ottawa Golf Club. I finally spotted someone I knew. There was just one catch.
‘I’m going over to talk to Simon… or is it Seymour?” I said casually to my wife, Brenda.
“It’s Jerome… do you have Alzheimer’s?”, came back the reply. Hmmmm, maybe… I really can’t remember.
It’s time I started doing those Lumosity exercises (or is it Luminosity?) I see advertised all over the internet. Or maybe step up my game when it comes to crossword puzzles, like trying the ones in the Globe and Mail instead of just the Hockey News. Whatever, if I want to profit from my pension for the next twenty five years instead of just having it sent to the institution while I stare in confusion at ‘The Price is Right’ I’m going to have to step up my game a bit. That will involve more mindwork than just calculating how far my last ball was hit at the driving range.
I blame it on concussions. My family can decide whether or not to donate my brain to science when I finally go to meet my Maker. I just hope that I haven’t gone for too many noon walks in the nude before that decision is due. “You kids out there…”, as Don Cherry would say. “Don’t play too much pick-up hockey or football without your helmet.” But I’m a slow learner. I still don’t wear a bicycle helmet while cycling or roller-blading. I tell everyone it’s because I don’t like the government telling me what to do, but anyone who has known me for awhile would say it’s just one more example of a lifetime of questionable calls. Throughout my foolish youth I’ve accidently walked into a lot of baseball bats and golf club swings because I was just too impatient to wait for the swinger to hand the club or bat over at their own leisure. And one incident on my bicycle when I was eleven years old stands out. I had just let the air out of a fourteen year old’s bicycle tires. He had kicked my friend’s soccer ball over the fence because he and his friends wanted to take over the park. In revenge I secretly let the air out of his tires, but my conscience, ingrained in me by my church-going mother, did me in. From seventy five yards away, enough distance to give me what I thought was an insurmountable headstart, I yelled at the miscreant that I had disabled his tires. Perhaps it was remorse for my sins, maybe it was just to show a bully that he couldn’t push me around, but I now consider it as not one of my wiser career decisions. He grabbed the nearest bike, my best friend’s as it turned out, and gave chase. I nearly made it back to my house and the safety of my front door, when laughing with giddy glee, I couldn’t resist a peek back. It was then I hit the edge of the sidewalk and ended up in a tumble right out of the slapstick comedies I used to love to watch. One consolation that helped offset the damage of my chipped teeth was that the bully, after circling the carnage, rode back to the park and left me alone.
That’s the reason I still don’t wear a bicycle helmet to this day. I figure that since I don’t deflate teenagers’ tires anymore and have to race madly back to the safety of my mother, I should be able to sedately pedal the bike paths of the mean streets of Ottawa without fear of banging my head against the sidewalk. Besides, I use my car a lot more now than my bicycle. True, I sometimes forget where I left the keys, but my doctor tells me I’m still okay to function. It’s when I can’t remember what the keys are for that I’m truly in difficulty.
And I figure that I haven’t gone downhill too quickly in the past couple of years of retirement. As I remember it (and only dimly at that) I sat beside Meghan, a lovely girl, in my last couple of years in the social science-business office. She used to help me out of my various predicaments. She also wrote some wonderful farewell lines in a little book that was presented to me on my last day. After humouring me with some lovely (and totally undeserved compliments) she signed her name – Meghan. But she knew what confusion I would find myself in as I read over the booklet. So she very astutely added: (the blonde girl who sits beside you in the office !)

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1 Response to Memory Banks

  1. Gillian says:

    I read somewhere – don’t remember where 🙂 – that it is often the very bright who suffer from Alzheimer/dementia…no further comment 😉

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