We all forget sometimes where we put our keys. We forget people’s names, even their faces. We may forget an appointment, even a dental appointment. But only I could forget my teeth. In the mad rush to be ready for the taxi, I left them sitting in a glass above the bathroom sink.
It happened (it really did !) for the first and, I trust, the last time on a recent return from vacation. Obsessed, when I prepare to leave my holiday home, with not forgetting to turn off the water, to make sure the shutters are bolted and the letter-box empty, I had double-checked everything. But at the airport I realized I had forgotten, after brushing my teeth, to put my “appareil dentaire” (I have forgotten the word in English for a “dental apparatus”) back in my mouth. So until I return for Summer On Zeee Beeech, I will have to reduce the width of my smile for the next three months, and will have my work cut out masticating apples, raw carrots and T-bone steaks. I may have to settle for a daily diet of caviar, foie gras and Ben and Jerry’s.
Memory is the damndest thing. We have something on the tip of our tongue and can’t for the life of us remember a name or a password or who sang “Starry Starry Night”. Then, ten minutes later, bingo ! It comes back to us. Our synapses were working overtime and we didn’t even notice.
If I have the misfortune, like my late brother and my surviving sister-in-law, to contract Alzheimers, I guess I will suffer through those initial stages of memory loss, trying to convince myself and others that I’m really OK – until it becomes evident even to me that I really am not. In the early stages I will have moments of lucidity during which I will be conscious of the burden I will have become for my entourage, and be embarrassed, maybe angered, by the fact. Then I will gradually lose touch with reality but will, it appears, remember certain events and people from my distant past, and surprise (and try the nerves of) my family by talking, repeatedly and in detail, about them. I always was a windbag, as I still am . . . for the nonce. God knows what I’ll be like if I contract Alzheimers (“De ore Leonis libera nos Domine” ?).
I won’t be able to say this when the disease has set in, so I’ll say it now, while I still have my wits about me. I have to wonder how people can believe that an Almighty, All-loving God would want old and not-so-old folks – I’m only 81 – to suffer senility and especially precocious senility. And this is only one of the burdens of old age. Many suffer solitude, anxiety and atrocious pain, and are as mentally alert as I still am. Surely a loving God would not condemn His children to such agony. I pity people who continue to invent reasons for suffering and excuse a non-existent God for allowing it. “God works in mysterious ways” ? Hogwash – forget it ! The Problem of Evil is a subject believers should get their teeth into – unless they have lost or forgotten them.
P.S. The word just came back to me : “dentures”.