These two words are nightmare terms for us as we age. We try to make them funny. I have a mug that says, “I think I may be confused but maybe I am not.” And then I have a key chain attached to an 8 x 10 plastic mat imprinted with “These are the keys I haven’t lost yet.”
Confusion and forgetfulness have become such dreaded companions to aging that we think they are the price to be paid for a long life. I was reminded recently that we, who see faith through aging eyes, do not have exclusive rights to these two experiences.
I was invited to speak to a group of young mothers. One mother was there with what looked like a big scarf draped around her neck. As I looked closer it was actually a sling that held a six-day-old baby. Other mothers came pushing a stroller or holding a toddler on one hip while balancing a plate of muffins and fruit. What surprised me most was how confused and forgetful most of them seemed to be. They asked what group they had been in last week because they couldn’t remember. The instructions for the morning schedule had to be repeated in order to be understood. The attempt to give directions for finding a room was so unsuccessful that one of the leaders said, “I will just lead you there.”
No one in the young Mom’s group seemed to be concerned about this forgetfulness and confusion. I think they would have labeled their experience “life.” Why is it not simply “life” for those of us who are aging?
The confusion and forgetfulness of the young mothers is probably as closely related to the “busy-ness” of their lives as it is a “life” experience. Since, for us “seniors” that is not the case, you are so very correct that it is not just “life”! And don’t you find it interesting that we try, as you said, to make these faux-pas “funny”, yet as we get older and older, they are “funny” less and less?
my biggest fear is getting alzheimer. My mother died from it at 58 and I am 64. Praise the Lord I am ok so far.
Thank you for these thoughts. I am finding that jokes about “old people” become less funny as they become our experience!! i do wonder though, for myself, if I would benefit from laughing more at myself rather than allowing each forgetful moment to feed my fear of dementia. I remember losing my keys every noon when I came home for lunch as a young visiting nurse. It frustrated me but I did not think it was pathological. Would we be healthier is we replaced fear with laughter? My friend recently gave me an 8X10 plastic sign with a key ring. The sign reads, “These are the keys I haven’t lost yet.