When my mom was in her seventies, she phoned an older couple across the country to ask what they had been doing lately.
“Oh,” the wife answered vaguely, “we look for things. . .”
I think of that more and more often as the decades go by. I remember the popular speaker Barbara Johnson used to bring laughs when she referred to those who had been consigned to a Home for the Bewildered. My brother Tim is getting more forgetful, more confused. I’m only eight years behind him.
Tim calls us in frustration when he’s lost his glasses, his jacket, his hat, some book, magazine or paperwork he brought to show us on our weekly movie nights. Now Jerry does a sweep of our house when Tim gets in our car to be taken home. He sweeps the car when Tim gets out of it at his apartment. But Tim still loses things and calls to see if he left them when he was with us.
He calls us when his reading glasses have disappeared again and he can’t make out the vowel points in the Jerusalem Post or the Hebrew version of the New Testament. He calls us when he gets muddled about his medications, when the pharmacy won’t refill the outdated prescription he brings in because he stuck the current container of pills in a drawer and forgot he had it. He calls us most of all when he’s clicked a wrong key and is lost in cyberspace and can’t get back to Diablo. (These days I just tell him “Click the back arrow” until he gets to a screen he recognizes.)
Jerry and I drive to Tim’s apartment a couple of times a week to help him look for his glasses (these days we buy them cheap from Costco, a package of three at a time, and just take him a new pair). We remind him again when to take his pills and we fix his latest computer problems, sometimes self-inflicted.
Then we drive home and Jerry (who is a few years younger than I am) helps me find my glasses, reminds me when to take my pills and fixes my latest computer problems, sometimes self-inflicted.