I didn’t hear the phone because it was in the basement, on top of the washing machine.
Alongside of my brain.
A sign of a mid-life woman, or just a busy mind?
My sister Angie called me yesterday afternoon, frantic with worry because she couldn’t locate a green bag of our mother’s that held important papers.
“I’m looking everywhere and I can’t find it,” she said, and I calmed her down, telling her I was headed over to our mother’s house right then and it was probably sitting on her table where Angie had likely left it.
“I’ll call you when I get there and find it.”
Only I didn’t find it.
When I called Angie to give her the bad news, she laughed.
“I know where it is,” she said, “It is right where I left it. In the van since last Sunday. I never brought it in.”
And when she arrived at Mom’s she asked me what was wrong with her.
“The same thing that is wrong with me,” I informed her, detailing how I put things in a “safe place” only to forget where that safe place is when I want it. I’ve done it with the television remote, a key, important papers. And, like Angie, I’ve been frantic with worry when I can’t find something important that I just know I put away for safekeeping.
I have the key to my mother’s house. It isn’t yet on my key chain because I haven’t had the opportunity to add it, but also because I don’t want it to get mixed up with the other half a dozen keys on there, of which I really only know the identity of two. One is the extra key to my van, the other to my sister’s shop, and the only reason I actually know that is because she labeled it. I could label my mother’s house key. Instead, I stuck it in my purse after I made a copy. When I fumbled in my purse for the key the first time I needed to use it, my hand came across two stray keys in the bottom of my purse. Which one was the one I’d just had made? I didn’t know, so I tried both of them. Do you think I then added the correct key to my keychain, like any normal sane person would? Of course not. I still have two loose keys in my purse, and I still don’t know which one is the correct one, but at least I have them both in a ziplock bag in the middle of my purse, assuring me an ease in which to grab them.
Well, writing about the foibles of the middle-aged brain will most definitely prompt me to label the key, but then, of course, I have to figure out which one is actually the correct one. In order to do that, I will have to drive over to my mother’s house and try both keys. And before I can do that I’ll need to stop at the library to pick up the coat I left there on Saturday. After I try both keys, I’ll check inside the house to make sure I unplugged the coffee maker last night. After I unplug the coffeemaker, I’ll need to use the bathroom. And it is going to get cold this week so I’ll need to remember to prop open the bathroom door to prevent frozen pipes. By the time I get back out to my van, I’ll wonder if I locked the door behind me, and I’ll check to make sure, belatedly remembering that I’d left both keys sitting on the table when I pulled the door shut behind me. Because when I went to the bathroom, I made sure to leave them someplace “safe,” hidden in plain sight.
I am not alone. An entire book has been written on this subject, by Barbara Strauch:
And it looks like there is hope for us all. According to a review from Booklist;
Along with bulging waistlines and graying hair, declining mental faculties have long been seen as an inevitable drawback of middle age. When New York Times science editor Strauch first began research for this follow-up to The Primal Teen (2004), her book on adolescent intelligence, faltering midlife brain fitness was considered a given. To her pleasant surprise, her forays into contemporary neuroscience revealed a reassuring discovery. Aside from usual short-term memory lapses of forgetting names and mislaying keys, the middle-aged brain is more vigorous, organized, and flexible than has been previously believed. In 11 easily digested chapters, Strauch overviews the latest findings of high-tech brain scans and psychological testing that demonstrate cognitive expertise reaching its peak in middle age. Although distractions and oversights may more easily prey on the mind, the continued growth of myelin (or white matter) increases problem-solving skills, pattern recognition, and even wisdom. Supplemented by a section on keeping one’s brain in top shape, Strauch’s work proffers a welcome dose of optimism to every aging baby boomer. –
I’m adding this one to the cart on Amazon.
As soon as I can locate my credit card.