Growing Old Together

In the ever stretching out of all things Birthday my dear friend Sara took me to lunch. Since she is fighting unknown food allergies we went to Happy and Hale so she could have a salad of limited choices. I was perfectly happy to go along with this plan, but felt guilty eating somethings on my salad, which she could not. It seems that no matter how old we get new allergies can pop up. This hardly is fair that she has to cut out most all foods and then slowly add them back to see how they make her feel.

As we enjoyed our salads we discussed a group we are both part of. We wanted to talk about new officers we had received word of in an email, but neither of us could remember who always on the list.

“Who sent the email?” I asked so I could look it up on my phone.

“I don’t remember,” Sara replied.

I scrolled through back emails, wondering why I had not deleted messages from the Boston Globe, Talbots and the American Cancer Society. Eventually I found it. I read the names allowed one by one.

“I don’t think I know her,” I said after one name.

“I think she is tall and skinny.” Sara told me. Not enough information for me to figure it out.

“Who is that one?” Sara asks.

“I think I met her once, but I can’t recall what she looks like or where she lives.”

And so it went on like that. Of the group of a dozen names we thought we knew maybe half, but of that we still could not be sure. Some of them I might know by sight, but could not put a name to.

When we finished that fruitless exercise we decided it was a good thing we have known each other as long as we have because we might be all we have as we get older and less and less reliable in our recall of people we have met.

I used to be able to tell you where everyone I ever met grew up, went to school and worked. If I were pushed I could describe them to a T so that a police sketch artist could reproduce such a likeness that they would be instantly recognizable. Those skills are completely gone for new people I meet these days, but I can still recite all that information for all my high school and college friends perfectly.

At church we have these little “friendship pads” in each pew where we write our names each Sunday and pass the pad along so we can learn the names of the people in our pew. When we first joined our church I thought it was a silly exercise because of course I knew everyone’s name, even when I was a fairly new congregant. Now I wait for that friendship pad to be passed to me so I can refresh my memory of who that young couple is sitting at the end of the pew, where they have sat three weeks in a row.

I don’t think I am losing my memory any faster than anyone else or that I have a memory issue, I just think my younger recall was extraordinary and now I am less than average. At least that is the way I measure myself compared to Sara. I wish we both were better at remembering, but I feel like I am in good company. Thankfully she has been a friend for so long I’ve got her in lockdown in my mind.



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