“Why did I come in this room again?” I often mutter to myself, while puttering around my house. At the commissary, I spend the first few minutes mumbling, “Now, what was it that I needed?” Without fail, an hour after entering a Target store, I find myself in the checkout line, inquiring, “Wait, what was that one thing I came here to buy before I threw all this other stuff into my cart?”
I’ve been known to search for sunglasses that were perched conspicuously on my head. I’ve forgotten to take my kids to orthodontist appointments, piano lessons, and sports practices. I’ve assembled an entire lasagna, only to realize I forgot the layers of ricotta. I’ve bumped into people I’ve known for months, and drawn a total blank when trying to recall their names. I’ve run a finger over my armpit while getting dressed, wondering, “Did I forget to put deodorant on?”
It hasn’t always been this way. In my 20s, my mind was a steel trap. As I observed the world, all data was efficiently processed and stored for rapid recall. When someone asked if I needed to write down a phone number, list or appointment, I would say with all sincerity, “Nah. I’ve got it all up here,” tapping a finger to my temple with confidence.
But somehow, after 21 years of marriage and military life, my brain cells are shot. Maybe it’s hormones. Maybe my college years finally caught up with me. Maybe I’ve ingested too many artificial sweeteners. Maybe raising three teenagers causes premature dementia.
I’m not quite sure what it is – or maybe I’ve simply forgotten – but I have enough smarts left to know that I must compensate for my intellectual decline.
Nowadays, our refrigerator looks like a Punjabi taxicab, covered in grocery lists, appointment cards, bills, school schedules, recipes, and a calendar the size of Texas, all highlighted in fluorescent marker and affixed with a garish display of souvenir magnets. It isn’t sleek or stylish, but it helps me remember things. And besides, who needs stylish kitchen appliances when you live in a base house that hasn’t been updated since the Carter administration?
Thanks to my gigantic calendar and four kitsch magnets, one of which doubles as a nifty bottle opener, I am reminded that there is an important federal holiday coming up.
Although we never seem to forget the hot dogs, pickle relish and cold beer for our traditional cookouts, we tend to forget why we get the day off to begin with. On May 5, 1868, Major General John Logan declared that flowers should decorate the graves of fallen Union and Confederate soldiers of the Civil War at Arlington Cemetery, stating, “Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”
By the end of World War I, “Memorial Day” was being recognized across the country as a holiday to honor those soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who gave their lives fighting for our country’s freedom in all American wars.
This Monday, May 25th, I’ll make a list so I won’t forget the hamburger buns, the Cool Whip, the plastic forks and the charcoal briquettes. Hopefully, I won’t mutter to myself, “Wait, why do we have the day off today?” But if I do, I’ll only need to glance up from the comfort of my lawn chair at the American flag flying over our front door and think,
Of course, it’s Memorial Day … how could we ever forget?
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