Wandering through one conversation after another

By Lori Clinch

Although my family worries about me, I think I have adapted quite nicely to my bad memory.

Knowing full good and well what my capabilities are, I make lists and leave them in prominent places. I ask those around me, whose memories are still intact, to remind me of important events and I thank heavens for Siri to fill in the voids.

Without her I would have no idea why I went to the laundry room on a dead run.

But lately a new issue has developed with regard to my mental state and I’m not sure how to handle it. You see, what I do, and it’s not on purpose, is mentally leave a conversation mid-dialogue.  It doesn’t bother me so much if I leave when I’m the one who is talking. I simply need to look at the listener and ask, “What was I saying?”

Oftentimes they can’t remember either and we just shrug our shoulders and go about our day.

Yet, I hate it when I forget to listen. I have long since grown used to my mind wandering in meetings. I know I mentally check out somewhere between “All those in favor” and “Motion carries,” and have offered up a heartfelt “Aye” more than once to a situation about which I was totally oblivious.

Thank heavens most of the boards I have sat on don’t involve world peace.

What bothers me is when someone is talking to me on a personal level and I check out for a bit. Take the other day, for instance, when a dear and kind woman was giving me directions to her establishment.

“So what you’ll want to do,” she started, “is take a left turn past the Hales’ place, you’ll know it by an old tree that’s blown across the road.”

Sadly, her description reminded me of an old farm and I pictured a dairy cow there and that’s when she lost me.

One minute I was listening to her and the next minute a thought popped up in my head, “Do we need milk?” This only sounds unimportant if you have never run out of milk.

It would have been fine if I had rejoined the conversation after that little blip, but no, that distraction was quickly followed by “I’ll bet we’re out of butter. I wonder what our egg situation is?” and then, “I really should clean out the refrigerator.” Then there is my own favorite personal pondering, “Where am I?”

I was brought back into the moment when the lady said, “OK, great. We will see you tomorrow at 2 then.”

I had a choice to make at the time. Did I come clean and tell her I mentally checked out of the conversation just after the Hales situation? Did I take the judgment and scrutiny and apologize profusely for my inconsideration and blind ignorance?

Or did I simply respond, “You betcha!” knowing the dear sweet woman would be waiting for me tomorrow at 2, somewhere between the Hales’ tree and Pocatello, Idaho?

Right now it’s 2:30 and I’m hoping she will call.

“So what do you think?” one of our sons asked last week during our phone conversation.

“About what?” I asked as I mentally rejoined the conversation after pondering Einstein’s Theory of Gravitational Pull.

“We’ve been talking about it for 10 minutes. So can we do it or not?”

“Let’s go for the gusto!” I responded in total oblivion.

“That’s so awesome!” he replied. “Thank you. Some day I will totally pay you back.”

It has been two days and I still don’t know what I agreed to. Financially or emotionally, I hope we can swing it, whatever it is. I just pray that I didn’t promise to clean the bathroom at their campus home.

If need be, I will deny any knowledge of the situation. I will pretend I don’t remember the conversation whatsoever. If worse comes to worst, I will go into hiding at the old Hales place. I just need to find it.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to loriclinch2010@gmail.com.