Just visited Ronni’s blog, “Time Goes By, what it’s really like getting older” and she had an interesting post today on memory. What’s important to remember is that memory and memory loss are not the lone province of seniors.
The constant bombardment upon our senses in the course of daily life apparently can take a toll on one’s ability to remember something one just learned. She quoted a story from The New York times about “the lure of constant stimulation”. It’s an excellent post that you really should read.
As I read Ronni’s post, I thought back to a decade ago when my parents died within 29 days of each other. It was brutal. The suddenness of it took my breath away and broke my heart.
My brother and I rarely see each other since we live on opposite coasts. That and being five years apart means we aren’t close. After their deaths, my brother and I met at my parents’ house in the Midwest to go through things prior to putting it the house on the market. How we managed to get through seven days together without killing each other was a miracle.
Anyhow, the article reminded me of him and his incessant need for “noise” throughout that week. He would accomplish this by turning the little TV on in the kitchen. He wouldn’t care what was on or even watch it. His need for constant stimulation was that bad. If he went upstairs to sort something, he’d turn that TV on also.
I, on the other hand, like peace and quiet, especially in the situation of sorting through our parents’ belongings. There was a need for silence, in my case, to process the loss.
So I would turn off the TV. He’d immediately come running, asking why I did that. My response, “you weren’t watching or listening to it”. His reply was “yes I was!”. Sigh…. What I wouldn’t have given for an iPod and earphones for him back then.
What’s annoying and funny, when looking back is the fact that I (5’4″) “outranked” this 6’2″ man by almost five years. I was the older sister and damn it, wanted the TV off! Isn’t amazing how grown adults can slide back down the banister of time to when they were 9 and 14?
I tried to rationalize it at the time, reminding myself he had three energetic children, each only 1 to 2 years apart from the other age-wise, a cat and a harpy of a fishwife who could eviscerate a grown man with her tongue, two large dogs that bark wildly when the phone rings (something I didn’t know till just recently when I called a few times trying to reach him and she was home not feeling well, so I was neatly eviscerated “second-hand” by her via him, thank you so very much). (Yes, I know that was a devilishly long run-on sentence, but get over it.) He also has worked in advertising in NYC for most of his life, so he was used to constant “background noise”.
I wasn’t. I had Siberians that rarely made a sound, no kids and a husband who traveled a lot.
Since we don’t see each other, I often wonder what his life is like now that his kids are grown, he works from home more often than not and all but one child has left the nest.
Mine is quiet. I don’t tweet, pay limited attention to Facebook and don’t own a smart phone, just a computer. Wonder what that means for my memory vs. his?