Communion Of Dreams

September 5, 2010, 5:13 pm
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Society, Survival

“Can you tell me your wife’s birthdate?” asked the salesperson.

I was there to pick up a Rx for my wife, just running an errand. I looked at the woman. “I didn’t know there was going to be a pop quiz.”

* * * * * * *

You know those online ‘security’ questions that some sites use, to make sure you are who you say you are if you ever forget a password or something? Well, a lot of times one of the options is the birthday for one (or both) of your parents.

I never choose that option.

No, it’s not because it would be too easy to look up, and therefore not a very good security question. It’s because I don’t remember.

That may seem odd. Who doesn’t remember the birthday of your parents? What kind of child are you??

I ask myself that sometimes. I probably should know this. And I feel vaguely guilty that I don’t.

But I didn’t grow up celebrating my parent’s birthdays. At least not that I remember. I may have when I was young. But most of that part of my life was wiped away after my parents died.

* * * * * * *

You’d think that after almost 23 years of marriage, I’d know my wife’s birthday. Sheesh. It’d take a real dipshit not to, right? Or it’d be an indication of a lack of attention, or caring, or love.


Well, maybe. Maybe not.

This is part of the intro from one of the “months” (November: Endgame) in the caregiving book:

In the last year or so of care giving for Martha Sr, I got sick and tired of hearing some variation of the comment “You’re a saint for doing this.”

Oh, those friends and acquaintances meant well, when they said it. So I didn’t respond except to thank them for their kind words.

But I knew I was not a saint. I did not do this out of some kind of religious belief. I did it out of simple, intense love and respect – both for my wife, and for her mother. And in doing it, I became a better person.

* * * * * * *

My sister was born on July 30. Or maybe 31. I can never keep it straight which one it was.

I remember the event. It’s one of the few real anchors I have left from my childhood.

But it happened close to midnight. And I have been confused about which day it was, ever since.

* * * * * * *

“Dates are . . . slippery things,” I said. I was trying to explain to my wife about picking up her Rx. “You know it doesn’t mean that I don’t love you, right?”

“Of course.”

She turned and went up the stairs, to shower.

“I love you.”

“I know. I love you, too,” she called as she disappeared upstairs.

* * * * * * *

“Can you tell me your wife’s birthdate?” asked the salesperson.

I was there to pick up a Rx for my wife, just running an errand. I looked at the woman. “I didn’t know there was going to be a pop quiz.”

The salesperson looked at me, with a certain amount of pity. Or maybe that was my imagination.

“It’s March 21. Or the 27. I can never keep it straight,” I said.

She wrote both dates down. “Thanks.”

I wanted to tell her that it wasn’t lack of attention, or a lack of love.

Jim Downey


6 Comments so far
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I think I was told once that the date is “itself to the power of itself” – but that could be wrong, too. If not, then it would be March 27th.

Comment by ML

See, you know better than I do myself.

Comment by James Downey

It wasn’t GLW who told me – it was her dishwasher. BTW.

In my family, we made it easy. Women born on the 16th of the month and men on the 23rd. I’ve joked with a friend that I could never marry him as he was born on the 27th of his month. We really have few discrepancies to this, four generations back.

Comment by ML

John doesn’t remember birthdays, either. That’s why he has the magic phone gadget–to remind him to make the socially expected gesture. It’s not that he doesn’t love me; his brain just doesn’t work like that. I knew it when I married him, so it clearly was not a “deal breaker.” I’m sincerely sorry to hear about your parents, though the sentiment is a bit late.

Comment by Sarah Catlin-Dupuy

Usually I can work around this small problem well – enough: I know the approximate time of an important birthday, and as that approaches I can sort out the details. But these pop quizzes are murder!

Comment by James Downey

I’m told that even Mom confused the date as the 31st, but it is the 30th. And I don’t know either of their birth dates either.

Comment by Celeste Zink

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