Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Time and memory

I wrote that last post, and set it aside for a few days before I decided to publish it.  I typically let what I write sit for a few days, so I can do a better job editing.  At any rate, just before that post was scheduled to hit the web, the Real Doctor's sister, C., called to wish us a happy something-teenth anniversary of our wedding.

The coincident timing of a wedding anniversary and a post about time and love was a pure accident.  Neither the Real Doctor nor I can remember the date of our wedding anniversary, nor have we ever.  The date was set in part by the Hebrew calendar, a lunar calendar, so our anniversary changes relative to the common calendar every year.  Also, by the time of our wedding, marriage was a foregone conclusion, so the date of its consecration wasn't critical.  A more notable, memorable date for us is when McCoy Tyner played a gig in Madison, which was our first official date.

Besides, until recently, I haven't had to remember the date of our wedding anniversary.  Every year, until two years ago, my mom would send us a nice, hand-made anniversary card; it would arrive about two days before our anniversary, and so we'd be reminded of the day with sufficient lead time to make sure that we had a decent bottle of wine or some cake on hand.

Alas, those days are in the past.  My mom, who recently celebrated her 80th birthday, is fast disappearing into the fog of Alzheimer's Disease.  It's a good day when she remembers which son I am (the one with the goats and sheep, up in Oregon).  It's a very good day when she remembers that I'm married to the Real Doctor.  Of course, the nature of things is that it will only get worse.  She's still recognizably herself, but I don't know how long that will last.  She is trailing my dad by about three years; however, Alzheimer's seems to progress more rapidly in women than men.  So, alas, it goes.

My parents have been married for something like 55 years. My dad is beyond recognizing his wife, or anybody, or having any meaningful interaction with the world; his body persists in this world, but most of what was uniquely Michael Appleman left this world over a year ago.  My mom, on the other hand, is still well aware of who my dad is--or rather, was.  She knows her husband of decades past, and cannot remember that he is unable to walk, talk, recognize her, or in any way take care of himself.  The fresh discovery of this, every day, is a cause of considerable sadness for her.

Which, I guess, is a reminder.  While we're here, and alive, and aware--don't worry about anniversaries.  Honor every day.

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