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Rounding Third: Forget-Me-Not is more than a flower

Of all the things I’ve lost I miss my mind the most. I wish that old cliche were not so appropriate.

I don’t know who said that first, but he or she was a perceptive genius, and definitely over sixty – the age when chronic forgetfulness moves in permanently.

What are you saying to yourself? “I’m only 50 and I forget something every day?” Lucky you. You have been blessed with early onset CRS … Can’t Remember Stuff. I’m sorry for you, but I can’t help. And there is more bad news about this insidious disease: there’s no cure. It gets worse. Once you start losing your keys, your phone, your glasses, you will continue to lose your keys, phones, and glasses.

And yes, CRS is progressive, it gets worse every year. I now write notes to myself about everything: “Go to bank. Pick up prescription. Make cookies for meeting.” Then I write myself a post-it and stick it on the inside of the front door that says: “Take Note”

The only good prognosis for CRS is that it’s not fatal – unless you forget a parking brake or that you are on the top step of a ladder. This disease does require constant vigilance.

In the years since my diagnosis of the dread CRS, I’ve learned that I often repeat the same stupidities. Even some of the bitterest lessons, the ones that end in “How could I have been so dumb?” – get repeated.

Many years ago, I put some water on the stove to cook some pasta for a summer salad. While waiting for it to boil, I headed into our home office to check my email. Not only did I read all the mail, I answered some of it at length. An hour or so later, I heard a loud snap. Hmmmm. What’s that? And as I stood up, I smelled the acrid odor of … HEAT.

OH NO!! I forgot the pan of water. Completely. Running into the kitchen, I saw that the body of the stainless steel, copper-bottomed pan was discolored – red to be exact. The smart thing would have been to turn off the electric heat on the glass top stove. Or maybe I could have simply slid it off the burner. But no, I think I was worried about damaging the stove. So naturally, I picked up the super-heated pan and turned toward the sink. It was so hot, in fact, that as I moved it, the bottom of the pan dropped out and a dozen blobs of molten steel hit the floor, each of them bursting into flame. The splashes that fell looked like mercury as they skittered across the floor leaving black scorched trails on my new laminate tile. I guess the snap I heard was the bottom of the pan saying goodbye to the top.

I was fortunate that my reaction time was decent and none of those molten blobs hit my legs or feet. I was also fortunate to have a good insurance company.

Did I ever forget another pan on the stove? Well, not that pan. And probably not for at least a year. But since then I’ve burned up a copper tea kettle, a small fry pan and a large pan of hard boiled eggs. I think that last one resulted in the neighborhood suspecting we had opened a chemistry lab.

Back in my 40s, I forgot a dinner party invitation one night (there’s that early-onset of the disease again) and have managed to forget a few luncheons in the decades since. Although one noontime meal was a bad slip. I didn’t forget to go – I forgot I was hosting lunch, realizing my mistake only when the doorbell rang and the front porch was full of hungry people. Oops.

These days I trust my brain to my cellphone, backed up by my computer calendar. It’s like wearing a belt and suspenders, I can’t take chances. If an event makes it into my electronic calendar, it’s probably going to happen. I do have to remember to check it before bed so I know what time the first meeting or appointment is.

However, ownership of a cellphone does not guarantee that the symptoms of CRS disease are completely obliterated. Take yesterday: I woke up knowing about my mid-morning appointment. I drove to the dentist’s office and parked. Before I got out of the car, I decided to double check that my appointment was indeed 10:30 a.m. It was. For my haircut. I managed to speed the nearby beauty shop just in time.

In my next life I want to be born with an on-time, organized mind that never forgets where I’m supposed to be – and when. With my wallet. My keys. And my cellphone… that I found by calling it from the house phone. Again.

Sigh.

Marcy O’Brien can be reached at Moby.32@hotmail.com.

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