It’s normal to lose your train of thought now and then. If that train routinely jumps the track and crashes in a fiery ball of twisted wreckage, you may have a problem.
My husband and I were getting caught up on the day’s events one evening and I mentioned I had run into the father of one of our daughter Liz’s classmates. I shared that the young woman was now married with 2 children and lived down south; Arkansas, Alabama or some such place.
“Which classmate?” Bill asked the logical question.
Her name, which had been perched on the tip of my tongue mere moments before, immediately flew the coop.
“She sat behind Liz in homeroom,” I said. Her face was blurry in my mind’s eye.
“Do you mean Erica? How about Becky?” Bill looked at the ceiling, mentally reviewing Liz’s 8th grade class roster.
“No,” I waved off these obviously wrong guesses like pesky gnats. “A small girl with a pointy chin. I think she had brown hair. Maybe red.”
“Is it Cassie? Natalie?” He ticked off possible candidates on his fingers.
“Those two were blondes,” I scoffed. Was this the best he could do? “She was the only one who didn’t get a gutter ball when we took the Brownies bowling in 2nd grade.” Chances were slim that Bill remembered Liz had been a Brownie twenty years ago, but I was clutching at straws now.
“I think there’s an “A” in her name. YOU know who I mean,” I insisted.
“Abby? Anita? One of the Ashleys?” A hint of desperation had crept into his voice, but he soldiered on manfully in the face of almost certain failure.
“They didn’t have an Anita!” I exhaled loudly. This was pointless.
A forgotten word is a shy creature. It hovers just out of reach and darts away quickest when chased. Names are the worst, as I know from increasing experience. They cannot be wooed; they will not be coerced. They alight only when and if they so desire, usually when you have given up all hope of catching them.
We sat in silence for another 10 minutes engrossed, in varying degrees, in a fascinating PBS documentary on the three-toed sloth. The elusive name came home to roost at last, flitting back into my brain as suddenly as it had left.
“Stella!” I exclaimed, shooting Bill a triumphant smile.
He stared back at me blankly. “Huh?” he asked, clueless.
Having trouble remembering things doesn’t necessarily signal early dementia, but I think it may be time to get a professional opinion. Bill’s memory is clearly going to pot.