Sunday, April 15, 2012
Where or When
I learned a new name for an old affliction last night. Now let’s hope I don’t forget it.
I had been attending a party when a new arrival showed up. He was an older gentleman and after we made our introductions he warned us that he might have trouble keeping our names straight because he suffered from CRS, better known as “Can’t Remember Shit.”
We all laughed at that line and I suspect just about everybody in the room suffered from this ailment, myself included.
There’s a lot of that going around.
Memory slips can be scary, but I guess humor is a good way of dealing with that dark breeze that passes through your heart whenever you forget where you put your house keys or the name of your favorite actor.
My father suffered from dementia and it was upsetting to watch him struggle to remember names and events or hear him casually ask for my mother, even though she had died several years earlier.
I got a kick out of that CRS line, but I had more sobering experience with this issue earlier this week.
I’m working on a story about changes in the auditing profession and my plan is to speak with the authors of a 1997 study on the future of auditing and ask them how things have changed over the last 15 years.
I called one of them--a professor at a southern university--and asked him for an interview. He said he’d like to, but there was just one problem.
“I don’t remember that study,” he told me.
I thought he was kidding or that his memory was a little bit hazy after all this time. But then he said he was going to a neurologist and that his brother had died from Alzheimer’s disease.
This was no joke. He really didn’t remember the study.
The professor, who sounded like a fine old southern gentleman, said he would be stepping down from his position at the university soon.
“It’s been a good career,” he added.
I wished him well and told him to take care.
“Thanks for calling,” he said in a frail but sincere voice.
The words had a painful finality to them, like he was saying goodbye to more than just a career. It sounded like he was bidding farewell to life--or at least the life that he once knew.
I found myself wishing that I had known this man better, that I had interviewed him more frequently, had his name on my list of contacts so I could call him to comment on various stories. I feel like I’m missing so much.
It’s awful think that this talented, intelligent man could soon be straining to remember the names of his loved ones. His fabulous mind may soon start unraveling, with all its knowledge, experience and ideas fading away. I feel like we're losing more than a person; it's like a whole way of life is disappearing.
Of course I have to be honest and say that while I’m definitely concerned about a fellow human being, I’m also worried about my own brain cells.
I try to do the right thing for my mind, taking my vitamins, eating the right foods and staying active both physically and mentally. I hope that all this effort will pay off, but I really don’t think we have much of a say in what happens to our minds. There seems to be a lot of luck involved in this game.
If that’s the case we might as well have a laugh about it. Stay healthy and enjoy your life for as long as you can.
There's nothing complicated here. It’s as simple as CRS.