“I’ve noticed,” Joe Fingers announced at a neighborhood dinner (Palm Heights, elevation 14’), “that here in my middle 60s I don’t always have the same energy I used to have. And my memory sometimes wavers unpredictably. I’m starting to wonder if it’s the beginning of the end for me.”
You could have heard a pin drop.
First, Joe never makes public personal disclosures unless he’s really upset about something. He’ll walk miles out of his way to avoid a reflective conversation or gray tones. Give Joe black and white, good and bad, and political polarization every time. Mimi Fingers is the Public Personal Disclosure Person (PPDP) at their house. Second, Joe probably wasn’t saying anything the rest of us didn’t occasionally think about ourselves or observe in each other. So the lid was off that can of worms.
“Don’t feel alone,” said my wife Brown Eyes, “the same thing happens to George and he takes short naps.” Brown Eyes is definitely not the PPDP at our house, but she doesn’t mind using me as an example from time to time.
“My sleep patterns are in shreds these days,” Brenda Fitzapiti said. “I just don’t seem to sleep all night the way I used to do.”
“I left my coffee cup on the roof of my car and drove off,” confessed Sara Caldwell.
“I couldn’t find my cell phone for 3 days. It was in the freezer,” admitted Juliette Harwood.”
“I started to introduce a visiting friend of 30 years to a neighbor,” blurted out Rick Mullins, “and for a moment couldn’t remember either of their names.”
“You think that’s bad?” asked Brad Fitzapiti. “Brenda used to complain when her parents couldn’t remember our children’s birthdays upon command. Last week she forgot our granddaughter’s birthday totally.”
“Brown Eyes organizes the jewelry I buy her in little silk bags and then forgets she has it,” I said.
As the Registered PPDP at our house, I do have certain latitude to make disclosures provided they are respectful.
“I buy holiday gifts for people throughout the year and stash them away. Come the holidays I have gifts but also trouble finding them,” admitted Chris Dempsey.
Mike Weintraub said, “My wife regularly can’t find her car keys, her watch, her wallet, or her rings and just as regularly asks me what I did with them. What I did with them? Sheesh!”
David Harwood couldn’t wait any longer to jump in. He said “Juliette has been complaining about my hearing for months. So I went to get it checked. I’m fine. She, however, is unaware of dropping her voice or waiting until I am leaving the room to start talking to me. And she takes naps, too.”
“Boy am I feeling better!” said Joe Fingers. “I thought I was losing it. You’ve convinced me I’m just fine and you are the people who are losing it. Mimi, I’ve never been happier in my life that you dragged me to another one of your darned neighborhood dinners.”
“Oh, Joe!”, Mimi responded tenderly, “It’s so good to have the Real You back.”
None of us is losing it, we all concurred afterwards, not the PPDPs and not their spouses.
We were and are quite simply experiencing some of the realities of our lives After 50. We are having the courage to talk about these realities with humor and affection, not with dread and depression. The beginning of the end isn’t upon us, we concurred.
What’s upon us is that we’re all in it together. What a comfort that is.
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Talk to you soon, George