Admittedly it wasn’t an easy time: the even tenor of our life remorgified into a phantom of what goes for normality. We enjoy our daughter’s visits from San Sebastian with her two splendid little boys, and gladly accept that plans made are unlikely to come to fruition before they become plan B or C or D. Therefore the phone call as I laboured on our allotment, was no surprise. It was reasonable enough that my dear wife – the overseer if not the supervisor of family events- should check that she had my undivided attention. But it was the preliminarily that shocked me into a new awareness of my present condition. ‘Now, listen carefully…’ she said.
We both recognise that my memory isn’t what it was and my concentration on the finer details of life can flow uneasily between fact and fantasy. I can have a flimsy hold on what has gone in between us. Often a conversation will begin, ‘don’t you remember…?’ and in replying, too frequently I have to choose between honesty and deceit.
But this was the first time my failing had reached down to the equivalent of a parent/child relationship, though the immanence of such has been apparent to both of us for some time.
Forgetfulness accompanies old age. Never that precise in my thinking, my lack of mental clarity and sharpness these days bothers me a great deal. It’s not that my mind is empty but rather that it’s too full. It’s like a cluster of fragments, bits and pieces of the past and anticipations of the present, none of which are finely tuned, so to break through that gentle cacophony of memory with something that needs concentration and clarity can be a problem.
We laughed about it afterwards, me perhaps with greatest delight, pretending for a moment that there is no problem, my wife knowing that there is.
‘Now, listen carefully.’ So, indeed it has come to this