“Ode to Forgetfullness”, Letty Jacinto-Lopez

Our senior bunch still plays and listens to Beatles music so you can imagine how I laughed like a drain to find a 2-minute YouTube music video on forgetfulness sang by an elderly looking bloke, MackDry Den, not sure whether this is his real name. He sang it to the tune of the Beatles’ Do you want to know a secret? (Listen, do you want to know a secret, do you promise not to tell, oh woh o woh….)

It brought me to that evening when I was dining with friends. We laughed ourselves silly as we exchanged anecdotes on growing old:

Rita Dy said, “A friend from our Travel Club told me that she was going up the stairs but got distracted when her grand daughter rushed up the staircase zooming past her. She held to the banister, paused, looked up and looked down and thought, ‘Wait a minute, was I going up or going down?’”

Betty Nelle related, “An elderly woman was going to be interviewed live on TV so she made sure that she went to the beauty salon for her hair and makeup and came dressed in her vintage finery; she also brought along her caregiver to assist her in the interview so she won’t forget anything. She sat in a cushioned chair and the interview begun, ‘Madame Castro, tell me of the time that you were growing up in Bacolod,’ said the host. She beamed and said, ‘Oh those were beautiful days. During summer, we would welcome visitors from Manila and we would go to the waterfall and bathe and then enjoy a spread of fresh seafood and appetizing desserts.’ The host smiled and while checking his notes for the next question, the elderly woman waited but was slowly, slowly veering to the left side of her chair, about to doze off. Her caregiver quickly propped her straight and she woke with a start. When the host asked another question, she smiled and recounted more of her halcyon days. But then again, the host turned to his notes and that created a lull in the interview. Without making a fuss, she slowly, slowly veered to the right. The caregiver and the host kept propping her up throughout the interview.”

This made us howl and giggle, not at the story, but at the thought that someday, we’d be propped up to sit straight like this elderly lady. Oh dear, much later in life, we hope. “Better make sure we have loving and caring caregivers surrounded by friends, children and grandchildren who’d do that for us,” I said.

Fe Wanner replied, “I keep going to the kitchen looking for something but only not to remember what I was looking for.” “Huh!” I exclaimed. “When that happens, I retrace my steps and repeat what I was doing. And sure enough, I would remember, but not right away.” Hmm, this situation is occurring a lot more these days.

Maree Olney said, “I always lose my pair of reading glasses; oftentimes, it’s right under my nose or on top of my head.” “That’s so real and I solved it,” replied Celia Silang Cruz, “By carrying several pairs. I visited a friend in fact who was convalescing in the hospital and she had 3 pairs of glasses hooked to her hospital gown.”

What about that time when there was a leak in the bathroom and I was frantically calling out the name of my children and I could not remember which one so I simply hollered, “Anak!” My son came dashing up the stairs, pushed open the door and replied, “Are you all right, Ina?” Oh dear, what’s his name again?

If you are young and haven’t started misplacing things or being absent-minded, don’t be too smug about it. Your time will also come, or as my friend succinctly remarked, “Tatanda ka din.” Here is the Beatles’ “Do you want to know a secret?” with lyrics changed by senior citizen MacDry:

You’ll never know how much it really bugs you. You’ll never know until your brain is impaired….

Listen do you want to know a secret, forgot what I was going to say, heyeh yey yey….

It’s maddening, tell me why I’m in the kitchen, now my mission isn’t clear, it just disappeared.

Listen, I get my children’s names all wrong, so scary, my coffee cup hides from me, it runs around when I can’t see, like my memory.

Got 2 pairs of glasses in every room, my car keys are in the loon….

Listen, do you want to know a secret, forgot how to end this song. Sorry, I somehow knew I’d get it wrong, its here one minute now its gone… in the O-zone. Oh woh oh woh oh woh….

And do you know why I love to wear denim jeans? It serves as a cool and hip reminder that my memory will fade (or is fading) just like my crushed, stone-washed, tie-dyed, stretched and slim-fit pair of jeans. Thank goodness for our friends and family who help us with humor to keep us young and in good spirit.

My high school mate, Pichina Abila-Pena, sent me this anecdote: A young man approached an elderly woman and said, “Lola, bumili ka na ng payong” (Old woman, please buy an umbrella). The woman looked up to a bright and sunny sky. “Bakit? wala namang ulan?” (Why? There’s no rain.) The young man replied, “Umuulan kayo ng ganda!” (You’re raining with beauty!)

Remember that the key word is growing.

It can be fun and funny to grow old.

Originally published, March 26, 2011 PHILIPPINE STAR

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