Fill in what you’d like: Marbles. Mind. Maybe religion if you’re so minded. I fear that I’m losing my language, drop by drop and word by word. It doesn’t happen too often, mind you, but just enough that each time it sends a tiny frisson of fear through to my soul.
I don’t mean the random, crap-why-did-I-walk-into-this-room-again? feeling (which also happens to me a little too often, but I chalk it up to my continual multi-tasking), but the actual forgetting of a word as I’m about to say it. It’s not there on the tip of my tongue, but lost just out of reach on the tip of one of my lobes, in that swirling midst of grey fog I picture enshrouding my grey matter.
The kids think it’s hysterical. A few months back, we got into the minivan and I wanted to ask my daughter if her seatbelt was on, but instead I asked if she was wearing her dishwasher. The kids are still laughing about it.
Just this morning, my daughter was complaining of a throbbing headache, but as I turned off the blowdryer, I heard her playing the piano. I thought, “Well, her piano can’t hurt too badly if she’s playing the headache.” True story. Not quite the same as randomly inserting the wrong word, but still disquieting.
Did you ever play that hypothetical “game” where you have to decide which of your five senses you absolutely wouldn’t want to lose? For me, it was always vision. I revel in the natural world around us and am continually astounded by sights of pure beauty. Taste is a beloved one for me too, as I just love good food and drink. However, it would break my heart if I was never able to “see” the ones I love anymore.
Well, my grasp of, and on, language is even more valuable to me than sight, and obviously that’s saying quite a lot. Dementia, Alzheimer’s–they scare the crap out of me. Sure, you can make the case that I wouldn’t know what was happening, but that would be when the disease is full-blown. Sufferers are aware of the loss as it’s beginning to happen.
There are quite a few things recommended by doctors and others to help stave off both dementia and Alzheimer’s: exercise, take vitamins, stop smoking, eat more vegetables, do crossword puzzles, etc. I do many of these (especially the veggies), and I keep reading, reading, reading. I build my vocabulary for my own edification, but if it also widens the pool of words from which some may be taken, irrevocably and suddenly from me, that’s a good thing too. If I know ten words for pretty, and forget two, no harm no foul in the scheme of things. Right? At least, I
hope so, assume, am damn well counting on it.
In the meantime, I worry mildly. I’m nowhere near the peak of my writing abilities and I’m nowhere near ready to stop the climb. So if, when next we talk, I ask you how your bicycle is–please just smile back at me and act like you know what the hell I’m talking about.
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