The other day, my friend, Niki, stopped by. I’ve known him since he was 3 years old when he used to hang out after daycare in the hair salon where his mom worked. He called me “Mary” back then for some reason. When I sat there while his mother did her magic, he’d come up to me and say, “Mary, do you have any gum in your purse?” Cheeky but adorable. His mom would say, “Niki, how do you spell it?”He’d get the “gggg” of G but couldn’t quite understand his mother’s coaching for the U and won the prize with the M at the end. I would have given the gum to him right away except his mother had scissors in her hand so I wasn’t going to go against her lead.
I didn’t see him very much once he started school so I stopped carrying gum in my purse. Then, after I moved to a new neighbourhood, I saw him on the street. I went up and asked him is his mother was Naya. He looked at me and said, “Mary, what are you doing here?” I almost cried. He now lived across the street from me. Later that year, after I broke my wrist, his mother volunteered him to come and help me. He came every day and asked “Mary, what can I do for you?” He was now 10 going on 47 he was that smart and clever. He’d come and carry my groceries, take out the trash feed the cat and talk and talk and talk. I was in love.
Four years later, he’s a teenager and I don’t see him as much. He stops by every once in a while to tell me how excited he is about going to high school. I listen and get very little chance to say anything interesting enough to divert his eyes from the screen. But I’m honoured just the same to have him sitting there. But last Sunday I decided to initiate a conversation about a “silly” thing I had done the day before:
“Niki, do you believe that yesterday I couldn’t find that cafe on St Clair.”
“I don’t remember the name.”
Questioning eyes rose from the screen.
“I thought it was at Wychwood but it was closer to …” I couldn’t remember the name of the street. Hundreds of times I have walked there, taken the streetcar, gone in a car or caught the slowest bus in the neighbourhood. Now, I couldn’t remember the name of the street!!
“Niki, what is the name of the street after Wychwood?” I had no shame. He looked at me with eyes that said, Has-the-old-lady-lost-it-for-good??
I wondered the same thing. I told some friends that maybe I should ask my doctor to refer me to a memory clinic. Just to check to see how far along I was on the road to not remembering to brush my teeth or feed the cat — god forbid. Since these friends were all in the same decade as I, they poo-pooed my concern. “We all forget things,” was the reply I universally received. I wasn’t so sure. I was certain that they wouldn’t have forgotten Christie Street for goodness sake.
It’s worrying I must say. I wonder if my forgetfulness could have been accelerated because I didn’t re-up my membership in Lumosity–the brain game? Perhaps not having my daily little memory tests has dulled an already dullish memory, who knows.
It doesn’t help that, I have the Paul Simon lyric from Bookends on loop in my head, “Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.” I mean if I can’t remember Christie Street how will I ever remember my memories like sitting here at Sue’s writing this? Then, I ask you what will I be left with?????? According to Paul Simon, Nothing. Yikes.