I don’t see why we can’t do it on Tuesday, exclaims Margaret, who at 82 is as bright as a button, active, energetic and just a tad challenged in the short-term memory department.
We can’t do it on Tuesday, Mum, because we are cremating Dad on Tuesday, explains The Girlfriend with infinite patience. Oh rats, yes, I forgot all about that, squawks Margaret, looking a bit embarrassed and bewildered to have so easily forgotten the funeral of the man she fell in love with at age 16 and who fathered her four children.
We laugh it off – Jim had been a bit of a rogue, who was often absent from the marriage – but Margaret’s oversight set the scene for a funny and worrisome display of repeatery and forgetery from all the Golden Oldies that The Playmate and I had fun catching up with on a recent visit Down Under.
I’ve got a nice pink cosmetics case in the storeroom, if you’d like it, announces The Mother. That would be lovely, thanks Mum, but you gave it to me two days ago and it has gone home to Bali with The Playmate.
Did you take your pills before dinner, Mum? No, I forgot and I don’t know what to do to make me remember. Did you make your doctor’s appointment? No, I forgot. And I can’t find my glasses. I’ve lost all my jewellery and all our CDs have been stolen.
The CDs are returned some weeks later by the person to whom they had been lent, but not before numerous searches of the house and some colourful speculation about who might have snuck into the home and stolen all of the CDs and only the CDs. The jewellery is found in a large vitamin pill container in a bathroom where it had been put for safekeeping.
Does Christmas Day always fall on December 25, asks The Mother, looking genuinely confused and worrying the hell out of everyone within earshot. Fortunately, we discover she was consulting a discount diary in which Christmas Day is assigned to December 27. Phew! And no wonder the diary was so cheap.
What did you say you were making for dinner? asks her partner … again. I said it was a surprise. Then five minutes later: What did you say you were making for dinner? Oh, that’s right you said it was a mystery, didn’t you? But it was another word.
Close enough, considering the chap was a bit out of sorts as he’d just spent hours locked outside in the cold because he’d forgotten his house key.
Mum’s former neighbour makes the trip from another town to see us and tells how she’d driven her partner to a the big hospital in a town she goes to every single week, and had become hopelessly lost, for hours, late at night.
I just lost all sense of direction, explains Rosebud, who was so late home after her ordeal of driving the length and breadth of the town many times that her neighbours were about to alert the police.
You should have a mobile phone, we urge. Yes, but I’d have to wear it round my neck and remember to charge it.
Is it mobile phones or is it that town? In the same town, to which The Girlfriend and I are strangers, we text-message Mum for directions to our assigned meeting place. The first response is a blank message; the second is a punctuation mark. In fact it is a colon. Is there a Colon Street in this town, I ask The Girlfriend, who by now is a rather frazzled and directionless driver.
It had all become a bit wearing and somewhat worrying, so I call The Playmate to unload.
You know that pink cosmetics case you took home for me? Well, Mum offered it to me again yesterday.
You told me that last night.
Oh. Did I tell you about Jim’s funeral?
Oh boy! Am I, too, suffering from repeatery and forgetery? Is this the start of the decline, or perhaps just the result of recent exposure to the afflicted? Or maybe my mind has been numbed by the cold of the southern Australian winter or the abundance of affordable wine.
I hoped a return to the warmth and routine of a wonderful life in Bali would prove my condition temporary. Because it was truly awful to witness the frustration and anxiety of the Golden Oldies when words deserted their vocabularies, treasures disappeared from their assigned places and appointments and purchases essential to health and comfort failed to be made.
Yes, I would return to normal once back in Bali. But I couldn’t for the life of me remember all those things I had to do and buy before heading home…
And just for the record, Margaret did remember to attend Jim’s funeral, but she turned up substantially late and delivered a eulogy that told it as it was and had the congregation in stitches. And that was a 24-carat gem from a special Golden Oldie.