I just addressed a get well card to a friend’s mother. She’s in the hospital back in my home town, so I went online to check the hospital’s mailing address. As I copied the street number on the envelope, I realized I didn’t need to check the zip code, even though I haven’t lived there in many years. Like my first phone number (Howard 6 3817) and the lyrics to my favorite songs from junior high, those bits of information seem to be permanently embedded in my brain, available for instant recall.
But memory is a funny thing as you get older. Here’s what happened to me last week:
I stopped into Heinen’s to pick up a few groceries and recognized the young man packing the bags as the son of my hairdresser. I’ve been going to Lisa for more than four years now and see the school photos of her three kids at every visit. They’re smiling at me, affixed to the wall next to her mirror. I knew Joe worked at the store and recognized him immediately. But here’s what I said:
“Aren’t you Joe, Rosie’s son?”
“Um. I’m Joe, but I don’t know anybody named Rosie,” he replied, looking understandably puzzled.
I realized my mistake, corrected myself, apologized, then went on my way.
But where did “Rosie” come from?
Well, Rosie was the colorist in a salon I frequented in my early forties – more than twenty years ago. I told Lisa on the day I first met her that she reminded me of Rosie. They’re both pretty, petite Italian women with dark hair, big brown eyes, and even bigger smiles. But I haven’t seen Rosie since the mid 1990’s.
What kind of crazy trick was my brain playing by bringing up her name instead of Lisa’s?
I’ve done that with the names of other people, too – usually when two people have a vague physical resemblance and have played similar roles in my life. Jean has been coming to clean my house once a month for the four-plus years I’ve lived in Willoughby. But if my son asks me what I’ve got going on tomorrow, there’s a fifty-fifty chance I’ll tell him Tammy’s coming to clean. Tammy used to clean my house in Madison.
I don’t know if these memory glitches are normal or if I should mention them to my doctor (anyone care to weigh in on that?). I’m not worried so much as curious. If this is normal – why does it happen? And isn’t the mind a remarkable thing?
If I forget to come back here before December is over, I wish you a joyous holiday season and good health and happiness in the year ahead. Thank you for visiting my blog!