Article by Wendy McCance
When I was little, I remember laying on the ground and staring up at the clouds. I lived in Kansas and was 4 or 5 at the time. I used to love laying on the ground in our front yard staring up at the incredibly blue Kansas sky. I would make up stories about the clouds I saw, turning them into magical flowers, a woman in a fancy dress or a simple smiley face.
I remember staring up at the sky one day and deciding that I would remember ever detail of my life. I was frustrated because I would remind my mom of different things that happened in our lives, and she would have no idea what I was talking about. She would simply say, “I’m sorry, but I just don’t remember.” I would be dumbfounded. How could she not remember these moments that seemed so important, at least to a 4 or 5-year-old?
So, there I was, staring up at the sky when I decided that I would remember everything that happened in my life. I didn’t want to end up like my mom who blamed old age on her fading memories.
I decided I should practice remembering each memory so that I wouldn’t forget. For the next few days, I would think about my memories while I was getting dressed for the day, or while I was riding in the car or when I was in bed at night before I fell asleep.
I would start at my earliest memory and work my way through each year remembering all I could. At 4 or 5, I had moments where I was frustrated because I couldn’t remember everything and panicked that I had waited too long practicing what I knew. I was sad that I didn’t remember more.
I drove my mom crazy going over all the things I knew. I would repeat all of my memories as often as I could. I would be sitting at the table for a meal and I would just begin to list off everything I knew. Sometimes I would come flying into the house from playing because I was excited. I had remembered something new and needed to tell my mom what it was.
Now I am in my 40’s. My memory is awful. My family gets annoyed with me because I remember so little. I have actually had my kids tell me that they were scared that I was going to have Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia because of how bad my memory is.
The crazy thing is that my strongest memories are of when I was really young. I even have memories from when I was still in a crib playing with an activity toy that was connected to the side of my crib.
My memory started falling apart in my late 20’s. I gradually forgot most of my school experiences starting about high school. I also have very few memories of my children when they were young. I am fortunate in that I have piles of photos and I wrote detailed baby books for each child. Cute sayings, accomplishments and special moments are written down and I’m grateful for that.
So, I’m curious, what is your memory like? My kids tease me because I do crosswords or sudoku’s daily. I am desperate to keep my mind sharp as I age. What do you do to keep your mind sharp? Is this even a concern for you, or are you one of the lucky people who have a memory that is sharp as a tack?
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