By Joe Rector

Last night as I lay in bed, a topic for a new column came zooming into my head. Not only the topic but several points about it also appeared one after the other. I remember falling asleep with a contented feeling that my next writing would be all but done.

This morning, I groggily stumbled to the shower. Halfway through it, I remembered that the new column idea had appeared last night. However, that new topic has yet to return. That’s right; I forgot every last detail that just a few hours earlier filled my mind. Does my brain have a slow leak like a punctured tire, or is this failure to remember another part of getting old?

Sometimes the loss of information deals with the two English classes that I teach. Each day is set with a lesson that needs to be covered; I have logged them in a notebook on my desk. In addition to the topics, page numbers in the margins help me to stay on task.

What disappears are nuances I want to point out. Other times, I spend several minutes searching for a stack of papers or notes that I’ve placed somewhere. Under my breath, I “cuss and fuss” until the documents are found, usually under a pile of other papers. The worst time is when I put the papers in a file for safekeeping. The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” applies as I look a dozen different places for the very items that were put in the folder for easy retrieval.

During my teaching career, I learned the names of all my students in only a couple of days. Usually, I had about 250 students per semester. Fast forward to today, and I struggle with names. Many folks at church have familiar faces, but I fail to put names with them. I still don’t know the name of the teachers at the school where I teach. It’s a blessing that my classes are few in numbers so that I have at least a fighting chance to recall students’ names.

I read much more now than in earlier years. Three or four authors have become my favorites, and I consume even the lengthiest novels that they write. Amy brought three books from the library a couple of days ago. I sat down with each of them and within a couple of pages realized that I’d already read them. No, I didn’t remember them at first. Part of the reason comes from a failure to pay attention to the titles; I pick up books and read; the storyline is important but the title isn’t.

Amy declares that I’ve always lost my keys. What I know for certain is that they can quickly disappear now. Even though I seem to remember hanging them on a Jimmy Buffet key hook attached to a wooden beach shirt, the ring is nowhere to be found when I go to get it. After looking for several minutes, I discover that the keys slinked out of my office and took refuge in a pocket of my jean.

Worst of all is walking out of the house, arriving at my car, and realizing that I never picked up my keys. A couple of times, I’ve arrived at school to discover that the key to the classroom is resting on my desk at home. What kind of brain malfunction causes a person to forget even the most basic things?

I might have tackled this subject before, but I don’t remember. See what I mean? One of my daily prayers to the good lord is that he give me the ability to remember the important things. The others I can learn to live without. Whether the forgetfulness is a by-product of age or a result of not caring, it’s frustrating. The one fact is that all of us will suffer some memory problem if we live long enough; of course it won’t bother us because we won’t know that we don’t know.