No, not the dish full of my Dad’s childhood marbles.
I know exactly where Dad’s cat’s eyes, corkscrews, agates, and boulders are located. The dish containing them sits in the garden window with a tea light in the middle and Foster Brooks Bird sitting on the rim sipping a margarita. In the evenings, the tiny flame makes a lovely flickering glow against the green glass.
Dad regaled us with stories of playing Shootin’ Marbles with his brothers when they were kids in the 1930s. When we were little, Dad would sprawl on the living room floor, legs wide, circle of yarn in front of him, and demonstrate for his wide-eyed children how to spin the marble across the field of play and win.
So, no, I’m not talking about the literal mislaying of colorful glass nuggets. Nope, I mean I’ve lost my mental marbles. You know, the ones that once rolled around in my brain and fell with precision into the correct slots in my head to help me remember things large and small. Those marbles are gone. They’ve tumbled out of the Chinese Checkers tray that used to make sense to me with their different segments—one triangle for short term memory, another triangle for long term memory, one for … well, you get the idea.
When we were teens, older sister Jackie and I would mercilessly laugh at how adolescent kid brother could traipse from the kitchen to the foot of the basement stairs, look up and yell out, “What did Mom want from the pantry?” In twelve steps, he would forget the can of green beans he was sent to retrieve.
The last laugh is his.
I walked from my office to the laundry room to tend the washing, passing through our family room on the way. Granted, this involves a few more steps than my brother had to deal with, but why is it that I only remember what I wanted from the family room when I make it the entire way back to my office? I turn around, dash down the steps, grab what I want, and run back up again.
My purse, ready to leave with me for a lunch date with a friend, has two Post-it notes attached to it: “stop for gas,” and, “pick up milk.” In the initial days of my iPhone, I had to have a note reminding me to lock it when I left home. The unlocking technology progressed from punching in digits, to using your fingerprint, to facial recognition. My XR is locked 24/7 and I have one less note to post.
Sometimes as I’m walking the hall from office to dining room, I’ll remember there are at least three emails I need to write. When I return to my office to sit at my desk, those emails are long forgotten. Please don’t think for a second that if you message me via Facebook – Musings Page that I will remember what you asked. At least with an email, I can highlight it with a flag, improving the chances that I’ll provide a timely response.
“Memories may be beautiful and yet…”
I can remember that The Way We Were is a film I never want to see again because it made me cry and that Bogart and Bacall’s first screen time together was To Have and Have Not with Walter Brennan, released in 1944. I know that by the time they made Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep in 1946 they were madly in love. These are fun facts to be sure, but does that mental prowess help me remember that I planned to call my friend Norma last Sunday? There’s now a note in the middle of the kitchen table reminding me to ring her this weekend.
I keep a small white board and several brightly colored erasable markers magnetically stuck to the refrigerator. Post grocery trips, I list the fresh produce located inside. Yep, that’s how I remember to eat fruit before it goes bad.
I’m trying to look at these memory lapses with humor and give them a positive twist: the more I forget things, the more steps get retraced. That means racking up additional steps on the FitBit, right?
Oh, but for the days when my synapses fired so fast I could rattle off a list for my employer as to where our temporary employees were working and each of their billing rates. Yes, there was a time.
Alas, age has crowded my brain with too many thoughts competing with space nearest to the top, like filling a glass too full—something has to give. I’m trying new practices to increase the challenges to my brain in the hopes that helps.
I have been doing puzzles on my Kindle, which is both frustrating when the puzzle is stupid and fun when I learn new words. For instance, I didn’t really know what “dross” meant, but isn’t it a wonderful word to put in place of “something worthless?” When I come across a word like “peregrination,” which is simply fun to say out loud, and look it up—I see those Brits have provided another word to add tomy repertoire. It means (with a literary and humorous bent) to take a long or meandering journey—and we all know how I feel about those—especially when I am in Wales.
Will I remember a month from now what kludge, retrorse, or harridan mean? Maayyyybee. But performing the mental exercise of memorizing the words is at least one trick I can practice to set my marbles back into their appropriate slots. Useful words or not!
Oh those ever moving, ever rolling, ever present marbles in my brain.
Dad’s multi-sized and brightly-colored marbles in a glass dish reminds me that variety is a part of life, that throughout our time here we will remember and forget and learn and recall and forget and replace and retain and resurrect certain memories from across the breadth of our lives.
So when our little grey cells are operating perfectly, revel in it. And when the little buggers fail, take a breath, regroup and surge on. And oh yes, I know who made those words famous—Hercule Poirot!