We made two of our closest friends seventeen years ago. Yes, I have a strong memory for dates, personal moments, the stories of novels and films…. details generally. The only aspect at which I am less strong is memorizing a list string, which demonstrates that a different brain neuron works with those. As evidenced by board game trivia, I ace retrieving memories. If I have ever absorbed it, I can get it out, with patience and a prompt! Therefore when this wonderful friend seemed to have a habit of laughing off her inability to retain information “for old age”, it made me angry.
I have never abided a defeatest attitude, the impossibility of making some contributions and possessing some control. Age 43 recently, was as far as I could go to avert reading glasses but by gum, age is not an automatic declarer of brain and body health! I pointed out to her a couple of years ago, that I am older than she was when we met. I am glad she has not made that distasteful joke again. In her case: an intelligent, educated, successful, and loveable woman…. attention span is the key! I need to alert her about this because it has grown hard to have a conversation.
She is one of those folks you might have encountered, who drops the person speaking to her for whomever walks by. Not “Excuse me, I’d like to catch them before they leave” but dropping me and turning to them! How can she remember a thing, if she tunes into the room instead of the person facing her? Every subsequent shiny object is more interesting than her present focal point.
It doesn’t work to be like my Dad, so geared-up about what he wants to say, that he can’t be paying attention. People who break in as soon as your sentence ends (which would be a step up with my dear friend!) are a sure sign. They say they heard you but barge on, closing the conversation you offered. Being good, invested listeners is the first step to memory strength. My philosophy is that we all win, if we are most interested in what the other person has to share! Make emotional exclamations, validate feelings, pose questions to show earnest interest. It’s a shame my folks bicker to speak and that we need to firmly clear sentence space.
My beloved spouse is a unique case in its own way, less frustrating if it didn’t require a daily effort to overcome. Instead of listening to my simple queries and answering the plain words, he inexplicably drums up an interpretation of what he thinks I want.
Gadgets must go when we are visiting! Phone calls, e-mails, voice mails, text messages are for keeping in touch with someone who isn’t in your house. Don’t answer phones or messages when you are in someone’s house! Enjoy the person in front of you. It is impossible to engage yourself fully and concentrate sufficiently well. Even if you ignore messages but have gadgets on and can hear or see what’s incoming. It serves nothing but to make you curious about what the message is. The moment your guest or host leaves the room, most people can’t contain their curiousity. The beauty of visiting someone’s home is that when your host steps away, you absorb their atmosphere, their life! Make friends with their pets, gaze at their portraits and art objects. When is the last time you perused anyone’s shelves of books, music, or movies?
Leave calls and messages for home, or emergencies! It goes without saying that parents with young children necessitate a gadget tuned in. We are discussing the need to establish conversation and visiting etiquette, especially in the era of people’s answering machines and e-mail being hauled with them. It used to be that you checked your internet and answering machine when you got home, or asked to check-in remotely on a long visit. We dearly need to preserve the “catch up at home” mentality and manners!
Ron & I got so aggitated about our land line disturbing us, when we were enjoying cats on our laps and other lovely couples moments, that we keep it unplugged. I favour the unobtrusiveness of e-mail. People can leave you messages at any time and you set aside time to check it when it’s convenient. My parents who don’t have the internet, can leave a voicemail on my cell phone, which only has emergency minutes. It sits in a drawer unless I go out. If I hear it, I answer and look for voicemails every few hours. I am not interrupted, nor apprehensive about being disturbed.
My reading, writing, and special home time is wholly invested. Ron leaves his emergency cell phone on the counter. His Mom and mine occasionally call. We don’t watch movies and listen to CDs often enough and savour that. Because I am focused, if I see a film or television scene again, I know the dialogue by heart. It feels splendid when we occasionally read books together on the same couch. I treasure all of these moments.