Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

August 20, 2013

Various states of mind

By Dr. Don Newbury
Corsicana Daily Sun

— Repeated ads help us remember that the mind is a terrible thing to waste. They are handy to have around, though, if only for misplacing, blaming, changing and/or wandering.

In later years, minds tease us mercilessly, often spotlighting recall of long ago events, but insist on “taking the fifth” on occurrences during the last day or two.

They take leave without notice, often without leaving forwarding addresses, and are known for lapses that can stretch into minutes, or even until the next day. It makes the mind no difference if a finger, ready to puncture the air for emphasis, seems frozen in time while the numbness of mindlessness turns us into mimes.

We seniors kid much about our minds. We joke about their abandoning us when we need them most, but in one respect, we ask for it.

After all, we strive to keep “body and soul” together, but what about the mind? It’s as though our minds may be out to lunch at any hour of their choosing, exempt from duty at any specific time.

So, minds flit about like butterflies. They, uh, seem to have minds of their own.

At our house, where we’ve begun marriage year number 48, mind games prevail. When the wife has a memory lapse, fails to remember the grocery list or forgets myriad other things, an oft-heard excuse provides a ready “crutch.”

“It’s the anesthesia,” she sniffs, citing major surgery performed more than four years ago.

My excuse is just as good — or maybe better. “Senility is wonderful,” says I. “You’ve already worn that expression out today,” she snorts, “and we’re just now finishing our second cup of coffee.”

We have the oldest minds on our cul-de-sac, with younger families in the other nine homes.

The youngest couple, probably 35-ish, moved in recently next door and just had their first baby.

My wife prepared a nice chicken dish soon after they brought the baby home, and my only duty was to carry it next door, ring the bell and wish them well.

I changed the script. When Dad answered the door, I asked, “How does your garden grow?”

Over the years, I’ve begun numerous conversations with these exact words. Often, they have elicited recitation of the next line: “With silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids in a row.”

This time, though, they triggered no response. Mother Goose never had a blanker look, even on her worst day. He cocked his head, mumbling that they don’t have a garden.

Feebly, I told him it was a line from a nursery rhyme remembered from my cradle.

Then, blankness set in. I couldn’t think of which rhyme. So, I started guessing. “Oh, surely you remember “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” I muttered, reciting several lines before realizing there are no garden references in it. Then I tried “Humpty-Dumpty.”

He smiled weakly and took the dish inside. I returned home, blushing profusely. Brenda asked why, so I told her the painful story and was informed this line is from “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary.”

Maybe we’re being optimistic when claiming to have “half a mind” to do something. Sometimes when we’re in the middle of a story, only to hit a “senior moment” that leads to silence, we’d kill to have even half a mind.

“When that happens to me, it drives me crazy,” a golfing friend said.

I answered, “That’s not a drive, that’s a putt.”

We own two rescue dogs of questionable lineage. They have little to do beyond providing accompaniment for chair naps, eating, sleeping and taking rides in the car.

Surely they don’t need help remembering what they seem to do automatically.

However, a big display at the store today gives me pause. Offered were $30 pet beds with — get this — memory foam pads. Even worse, my wife wanted to buy a couple, and probably will on her next shopping foray.

Our lapses give grandchildren something to joke about.

A few days ago, one of our “grands” couldn’t think of the name of a new app he wanted for a computer game.

“You’ll just have to forgive me, Poppy,” he said. “I’m having a junior moment.”

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Dr. Don Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. He may be reached by email at newbury@speakerdoc.com. His website is www.speakerdoc.com. Follow him on Twitter: @donnewbury.