Monday, October 13, 2014


I was pretty much zeroing in on the frozen brussel sprouts in Walmart when our carts almost collided.  Her face broke out into a huge grin as she said,"Hey Patti, how are you? It's been such a long time."  She then swooped in for an enthusiastic hug.

I know her--- I think. 

I mean, she looks really familiar and she obviously knows me well enough to appear pleased at the encounter and want a hug.  I did the usual "What have you been doing and how's the family?" --hoping feverishly there was a family.

The whole time my mind is racing. 'Who are you???'

"Hey don't be a stranger," we both eventually agreed after vague pleasantries and moved off in opposite directions.

Now I am terrier like when I hit the memory wall. I will not let it slide. So I put shopping on pause as I pushed my cart without a shopping purpose to circle the large store a couple of times with mind racing.

Garden club?? I search my mind for the faces in that club but am pretty sure that's not it. Writing club?? Naw, pretty sure not, that was a small group. Survivor group?? Not unless it was someone who only came a few times. Master Gardeners?  Ah ha, I am pretty sure that is it but I continue walking with no name yet to attach to her.

It has been several years since I was an active member of the group so I resort to the A--B--C's hoping to jog my memory. This is a very effective memory prodding tool by the way. Lock the image of the person in your brain then very slowly recite the ABCs and often a letter will expose the name.

When I got to the letter L, suddenly the name burst into my brain to match the face-- Liz!!! Yes, I do remember, in fact she was actually a favorite of mine in the Master Gardeners.  We had worked closely on a project several years ago.  She had gained maybe 10 pounds but I had gained twice as many wrinkles and sags so I wasn't going to be absolved that easily. She remembered, I didn't. Do you suppose her being 30 years younger helped?

I have adjusted to a some of those memory blank spots these days.  'What did  I come into this room for?'  Remembering something I need in a store that isn't on my list but by the time I get to the general area, I have forgotten what I remembered I needed. Grrr.

That last one really irritates me but I use Bill Cosby's rule. He advocates returning to your original starting point and it will come back to you. He went a bit further convinced that our brains are in our butt for he suggested not only returning but sitting back down to reboot the memory.  It does work Bill, even if you are in a store and can't sit.

I secretly am convinced that aging memory is Nature's way of making sure us old codgers get exercise. I know it makes me wander about a lot. I put in a lot of extra steps that day in the store hunting for Liz's name. And those of you who forget where you put your car in the parking lot, you really get some wonderful exercise.

I am quite good where I park my car, where my keys are,eye glasses (except that time I didn't recognize them) , appointments, etc.  It is people and their names that I am really weak on. Names were never my strong suit but lately----?

I am reminded of some dear friends of mine from years ago. They were in their late 60's and we were at a party together. Wally looked at his wife and said."See that lady over there with the purple scarf?  She sure looks familiar. Do we know her?"

Vesta got the giggles and said, "Don't you remember? That is Sara and she was in our memory class."   Think I am getting right up there with you Wally.

Then there is the elusive word, that one you have known all your life but leaves you in mid sentence with a blank mind and stare.  I got a bit tickled when my friend Sis from the second grade came to visit this summer. We are just weeks apart in age. During her visit, a couple of times each of us would  hit the wall searching for "the word" and oddly the other knew exactly the missing word.

I started to laugh after one episode and said, "You know between the two of us, we might have one brain."


I know, I posted this cartoon before in 2010 and I think Fishducky used it not too long ago also but to me it really brings home the consequences of a senior memory. There weren't many of you around when I first posted it, besides it fits this post and cracks me up :))

I guess if there is any consolation, it's that we are not alone. This condition is as common as wrinkles in those of us who hold an AARP card.  We just have to find new tools to combat it.

Have you hit the wall yet?  Do you have a handy tool to help?


  1. Oh gosh this has happened to me so many times before! I usually say "Wow it's been so long. When is the last time we saw one another?" - and then when they answer is usually clicks :)

  2. As far as not being able to recall names, forgetting why I walked into a room, losing car/glasses/keys--I hit that wall--well, it's been so long that I cannot blame it on age.
    There are only a few stories that make me laugh out loud every time I hear/think about them and the butt ugly glasses is one of them.
    I just recently saw that cartoon posted on the car sales person's cubicle. It did give me a chuckle.

  3. (Optimistic Existentialist's technique is genius!)
    I used to use the 'return to the starting point' method on my high school students when they'd come up to my desk and give me that blank look. It really does work quite often.
    One of my most frustrating memory moments was when I went down to basement to grab a can of -?- or a box of -?- from the small store of food I keep there.
    I stood in front of shelves, mind blank, and had to go back up to the kitchen.
    I remembered the item and returned to the basement.
    Blank again.
    I did this three times.

  4. Happens to me all the time these days. When my brain gets derailed, for whatever the reason, I have the dickens of a time trying to recapture what I was going to say. It's very frustrating, but as you say, Patti, we've got plenty of company! :-)

  5. gonna make you giggle and say, I don't know about that but....
    when I forget where I put something and am in a tizzy about it, I stand in one place and turn myself around once, then stand and let my brain catch up with what I just did. Works everytime. Of course I don't spin quickly....otherwise I'd be on the floor, but for some reason that movement helps me gather my thoughts....literally

  6. Yes, forgetting names, what one is looking for, what one started to say or planned to do at that moment... seems to befall us all as age progresses. That we can laugh about it is helpful. DH finds it especially funny when he finds odd things in odd places. And if I'm in a hurry, I do admit to putting things in the refrig that definitely don't belong there.

  7. I laughed all the way through your post as well as most of the comments!

    You know all our memories are still inside our heads - just have to find the right road to get there.

    I hope!

  8. Forgetting why I went into a room or forgetting something not a list happens frequently. And I've never been good with names.

    What annoys me most though is when I can't recall a word. It happens more often than I'd like. The worst was when I was writing something and could not for the life of me remember how to spell "if". Seriously!

    Mom always told us to go back where we started when we forgot something...well before Bill Cosby but I love his idea of sitting on one's butt!

    One memory I've used for remembering a list (when I can't write it down) is to use the first letters of each word to create a sentence. Sometimes I even come home from the grocery store with what I wanted. :)

  9. I forgot what I was going to say!!

  10. Happened to me this weekend... when a lady walked up to me, called me by name and said she missed me being at the feedstore (I worked there four years ago), and she had the best roses because of me. I could not remember her name for frustrating...
    Going to try your methods to see if that helps in future.

  11. In the same boat. I recognize faces, realize I know a person, but do not remember from where - a class? the office? client? exercise class?...and am bad with names, always was.

  12. No, and I sure need to find some handy dandy tip or tool to combat the loss of memory. I may try that back up and sit trick.

  13. I'm going to have to come back after more people comment to gather more tips! I've started writing EVERYTHING down. If I go into a store with 3 things on my mind, two of them will slip into the abyss.

  14. Sweet Patti I have hit that wall a lot, especially in the last couple of years. I do the ABC thing like you when trying to remember names, movies or book titles. It does work. Sometimes the return to starting point works for me but most times it will come to me hours later or maybe even the next day. I can really relate to this post. Hugs to you and nose kisses for the sweeties!

  15. My sister and I laugh all the time about how much we forget. There have been many studies about walking through doorways and forgetting. I think I left a comment about that somewhere else, but I forget where.

  16. I hit that wall a while ago - sooner than I should have, I think.
    Anyway, the way I deal with it is to ask my son to figure out the word I want. He's pretty good at it, but it entails a lot of eye-rolling, which I can do without.

  17. Cute post--and I'm sure we all have had a similar incident which we could share... My memory is helped by my computer these days. (Don't know what I'd do without it!!) We have a calendar which we sync together ---and it contains all kinds of things we need to remember (birthdays/anniversaries/ appointments, etc...). Then it sends out a reminder for us and the given time...

    AND--I also have a NOTES program/app --where I can remind myself of little things I need to do (like wind clocks, change hummingbird feeders, put clothes in dryer, etc.)... This program is also on my iPhone --so I get a 'train whistle' sound when it's time for one of these reminders.... Without all of this help, I'm not sure what I'd be forgetting these days... ha ha


  18. All of this is very familiar! Retracing your steps works pretty well.
    I am terrible with names, so now I just ask if it is someone I haven't seen for quite a while. I say "Help me out. I can't remember your name." It's kind of embarrassing but it get's me over the hurdle.

  19. I am terrible with names. I met this really lovely woman about 6-weeks ago. Two-weeks later I saw her, I remembered her name and said hi. I then ran into her again this past Friday. I still can't remember it.

  20. It cannot help me with names and faces but it sure helps me remember events and shopping needs, etc. That is my smart phone. Don't know how I lived without one for so long as it has become like an added appendage.

  21. Keith,
    Great idea! She would have mentioned the project and I think her name would have followed. I will try this. Thanks.

    I am so glad you got lasting effects from my butt ugly glasses. That was an experience.
    We do adjust don't we?

    Mercy, you say it is now effecting school age kids? What will they be like when they get older?
    Ha, I have had that repeat return in the grocery store also. Lots of exercise.

    That missing word is so frustrating as well as loss of train of thought. Sigh.
    Not a very exclusive club is it but the company is great.

    Linda W.
    Now I can't wait to forget something so I can try the turn method. I'll try to remember to spin slowly also:))

    Well at least in the fridge, they will eventually show up. Humor keeps our sanity.

    Linda M,
    Sometimes I think if we could just wipe a few drives clean and defragment all the useless info accumulated, we would be fine. So glad I found your funny bone.

    Great idea, then all we have to do is remember the sentence. I kind of do that to remember my licences plate.

    I so understand.

    I know, it is not at all fair when they remember us. Hope it works for you. It is not instant but usually works.

    What hurts you as well as me is when we have a variety of places where we interact with others. Makes the chances of remembering slim.

    That really does work--- if you can remember where you started. Sometimes in the grocery store, I forget where the thought hit me.

    Ah yes, the great invention for our sort, the post-it note. I've got them everywhere.

    I can relate to the delayed light bulb moment. Sometimes for me it is in the wee hours and there is no one to tell and if I don't write it down, it will be gone by morning.

    That is interesting about the doorway. Think I will pay attention to that in the future and see if that is a cause for me.

    Ha, ha you are right. The only ones who don't do the eye roll are those in the same boat. You can almost see their relief as they realize that someone else does it too.

    That sounds like a great app. Good to know there is another good use for smart phones. Sadly the computer can be not reliable. Yesterday a friend called about a luncheon next week and asked if Tues was good. My power was off and I couldn't check my computer calendar. Weird how dependent we have become on technology.

    Linda R,
    That is the smart and time saving approach but I just can't bring myself to do that, especially when they remembered my name. I just hate to hurt their feelings.

    Well at least you have a two week window to remember. That is more than a lot of us, myself included. I really need to work on names.

    Grannie Annie,
    You just gave me an idea for a great app. A facial recognition app like the FBI has. Our files would be smaller and it might work. Anyone want to run with that, you have my permission.

  22. I do crosswords, anagrams, and other word games. People around here have an annoying habit of approaching you and saying, "Do I know you?" I hate that.

  23. I have always had a bit of a problem remembering names. I hate when I walk into a room for something and forget what it was! Yep, backtracking helps. What I wish I could remember better is the food I've shoved to the back in the refrigerator and it spoils before I remember it! Had to throw away a package of hamburger that had gotten pushed back and I hated that!

  24. Hit it? I ran into it headfirst at full speed. I was glad to just learn though I wasn't along in using the ABC technique for remembering names....:)


  25. That is soooo embarrassing when someone remembers me and I don't have the foggiest who they are...... same as your encounter. Everyoe should wear name tags. No just kidding, that would only be another of our freedoms taken away. Ha

  26. Hit the wall yet? You didn't ask how many times a day we hit it. It is just terrible how I can't remember things. Names have always been a problem for me. I literally left the classroom because I could not remember my students' names.

    Now you are telling me to have a system for memory. How will I remember that? LOL My mother at 98 does the a, b, c trick and usually remembers name much faster than I can. She remembers everything better than I do. I'm in trouble.

  27. Dear Arkansas Patti, I really agree with Bill Cosby. When I walk to the kitchen and then find myself wondering why I'm there, if I walk back to the room I was just in, most often that will jog my memory and the lights will go on in the dusty chambers of my brain! Peace.

  28. NCMountainwoman,
    I started doing crosswords this year and it has decreased my lost word instance by 70%. Great tool.

    Hum, that is one I haven't been guilty of yet though now that you have planted the seed------.

    It really does work doesn't it? A friend taught me that years ago and I am grateful.

    Maybe if we just wore initial tags. That would save lots of time and we could keep our right to privacy. I'm for it.

    Good to know ABC still works in our nineties. She must be quite a lady.

    As long as we can still remember to go back to the starting place, we are in good shape.

  29. I'm not sure age has anything to do with this, quite often people will come up to me and greet me warmly and ask me all about my family and I haven't got a clue who they are at all, and unlike you I often never do find out who they are either! :D

  30. I had to tell you this: On Saturday, I expressly went to the store to get frozen crab legs. Both my husband and I had a craving. When I got there, I thought of a few other things I needed - fruit, coffee creamer for Bob, lettuce, etc. When I got home, I was unpacking the bag and it hit me - I hadn't even gone near the frozen crab legs! Postscript - I finally got them after hiking today!

  31. I love that cartoon, Patti! Actually I'm really really scared of my memory loss. I'm reminded that my father and all his siblings had Alzheimer. My brother and I are always talking about what we remember or don't. I also use the alphabet to try to remember.