Gathering Up My Marbles
by Holly Varni
April 21, 2022

The mind is a precious thing. The older you become, the more valuable it is deemed. You can be the most forgetful person when you’re young, and people will say that you’re just distracted and have ADD. For those of you not familiar with that acronym, it stands for attention deficit disorder, and apparently every child has it today. An entire generation has gotten a pass on ever having to come up with an excuse for why they forgot to do something.

At my age, when you’re forgetful, everyone looks at you with a mixture of pity and worry that you’re losing your mind. It’s not socially acceptable for someone in their nineties to be wandering around the grocery store in their slippers because they forgot to change shoes, and say, “Oh, that darn ADD.” Nope. Old folks can’t use that defense.

When I was younger and would forget where I put something, my husband would say, “Now remember how forgetful you are at this age so you’re not worried when it happens to you later on.” That was good advice. I approached aging believing that youth and vitality may escape me but my mind never would. However, as kind of a safety net, I admit that I do work on puzzles, crosswords, word games, and read to help me hold onto my marbles. Everyone knows you have work to keep your wits about you. Boredom turns the brain to mush, so I fiddle on this and that.

When I do misplace things or forget details or memories, I chalk it up to being too busy concentrating on the important stuff. I think, Oh, if only everyone knew what was really going in this head of mine! When you have nearly a century’s worth of information stored up, it’s only natural that some of it leaks out.

It’s fine that I have no idea where I put my reading glasses; I have four other spare pairs that I bought at the drug store for just this predicament. That kind of fore planning takes a smart brain. In these later years, I’ve also adopted a kind of relaxed mentality about things. If something gets lost, no worries—I’m sure it’ll show up at some point. If I leave the house in my slippers, oh well, they’re comfortable. If I can’t remember what food I need when I get to the grocery store, I’ll just buy cookies to tide me over.

Sometimes I think the most important thing I can do for my mind is to not criticize it for not working perfectly but have the appreciation that it works at all! I’m getting by fine, and instead of lamenting over lost marbles, I cherish the ones I’ve been able to gather close to me.

So, whenever I can’t recall a name or number, I don’t get upset because I remember my husband’s wise words from long ago. This slow aging process has been happening for years. And then I remind him of this, too, because he’s forgotten.