“Strangely, I had great thoughts for this essay but they seem to have dissipated.” Samuel Pepys 1704.
Over the years I have been forced to watch all sorts of people that I have liked go gaga. I recall distinctly wandering over to an old skiing friend in the ski lodge and chattering about something or other of little consequence then realizing that the poor guy had no idea who I was or what on earth I was talking about. He died only a short time later. Someone mentioned Alzheimer’s, something I hadn’t heard of before.
Some years after that I saw a couple that I knew out for a walk but the man was striding ahead and his wife tailing helplessly afterwards. That man didn’t last much longer either.
When you live with a person for many years it is difficult to spot changes in the other’s mind and behaviour. I knew things were going hay-wire with my lovely wife some ten years before she died but it was close friends who really noticed what was happening before I did. When I finally got her to a specialist, I begged him not to mention Alzheimer’s because my sweetheart had heard the word and was frightened by it, but that, apparently, is what it was that finally took her away from me.
The next few years were hellish because, even though I was able to care for her at home, I was unable to leave her alone and, when we sat together, there were times when she had absolutely no idea who I was. For hours in the evening we’d sit and wait for her husband to come home.
Jimmy died four years ago and I am positive it was a great release for both of us.
But now I sometimes fret about myself. Am I too going gaga? And if I am, will anyone have the decency to inform me?
For example, I found myself this morning – I wasn’t actually lost although several older ladies recently have found it to be their beholden duties to set me on the right path – I was out in the garden trimming the grass around my pool and fountain and I was using a pair of Staysharp kitchen scissors for the job and so I asked myself what the heck I was doing. Was this it? Was I slipping over the edge into dementia? Was I going bonkers?
But, before my neighbour could saunter over and question my behaviour and I’d be forced to explain, I worked it out. I couldn’t use my lawn-mower for the task because of the surrounding rocks. I couldn’t utilize my new weed-whacker because that would strew grass cuttings willy-nilly into the pool and then I’d be forced to clean it, and the garden sheers just won’t work out of sheer cussedness.
So, in the bright sunlight, I reasoned that I wasn’t going balmy; I was being practical. This thought took a huge weight off my shrivelling brain.
And then I recalled that, although I still can’t remember people’s names for more than a minute or two and that my speed at solving Sudokus is slowing daily, lying in my bed the other morning, I had worked out why my a/c hadn’t been working, resolutely got myself dressed and I’d fixed the stupid thing all on my own. So something is still ticking away up there in my cerebellum or wherever it is that thinks occur.
But this getting older and falling apart so quickly can be worrisome so I made my editor promise to tell me if I was going completely gaga but, so far, he’s not said a word. So I just hope that one of my children or grand-kids will tell me when I am completely potty. I’d really like to know. So far, stony silence. However, good friends do look at me askance on far too many occasions.
P.S. To that fellow that I failed to recognize the other day and whose name I’ve already forgotten: Do I really owe you twenty dollars U.S.?