Friday, January 15, 2010

Remembering Times

Remembering Times

I’m trying to remember some things about the last few years.

It’s not self-punitive; hell, I can cover that in the last few minutes. And it’s not self-reflective, which I’m expert at (I mean, I can rearrange any scene I’ve just appeared in so that I’m the hero one way or the other.).

It’s more curiosity than anything else. I claim no credit for it, but I have a vivid memory. Other people—I mean, people with whom I habitually associate, all right, yes, but also a few people we would both be impressed by; and maybe people we would all be impressed by—have said, in public, that they have been amazed by my untrained memory, let’s say, for the details of a story.

Hell, I’m impressed with that, too, and I live with it, and I’m not easily impressed with myself. I can’t add 3 to 28, or remember whether I was going meet you this afternoon in The St. James in Mineola or Runyon’s in Seaford, but I can remember the details of story that happened in the Changing Times in 1992 detail for detail.


Both my mother and my father displayed uncanny memories, and, come to think of it, my uncles and aunts, too. My Uncle Eddie remembered plays so well that he came out routinely from his backstage role to play Murray the Cop in the on-the-road-version of, “The Odd Couple,” whenever the movie star called in…well…when he called to, sort of, say that he was not going to make the show tonight.

My 89-year-old mother performed songs and described scenes from the Nineteen-Twenties for her grandnieces before she died—I mean, literally, before she died; and my Dad had been a been detective, detecting for years, more than half of which was remembering who was wearing what cloth coat when the butler walked in.

So, imagine how naked I feel with a recent three months gone completely. I mean, three months gone, not a trace, not visitor memories, cards, doctors, nurses, not my own personal, health-care-advocate-and-spousal-equivalent-nurse, not my kids, not her kids, not her brother and his wife, not dear friends.

You would think somebody would allow you a spot on the ceiling to observe some of the headaches you caused.

Early on in my recuperation, I (suddenly) recall, a group of visitors were sitting around talking about the previous winter. They were sitting around me, to make me feel good, and they were talking, which I did not know I did not do well anymore, and one of them said, “Remember last January,” and talked about fighting snowstorms and seeing through frost-caked windshield and recovering from accidents.

I thought it would be my chance to chime in, saying, “Well, February and March were pretty mild.”

I killed the conversation. I mean, dead, in cold blood. Besides not knowing I couldn’t talk (“Befdh lookesqu,” I probably said), I had slept through the winter. I didn’t know anything about it, and I didn’t know I didn’t know anything about it. What do you say to a person like that? Even Politicians don’t do that.

Most politicians don’t do that.

You know, I do have this memory of (despite having passed out) looking up and seeing my ex-brother-in-law in a Vermont police outfit, and, he now tells me he was there, in Vermont, but that was still the last thing I remembered before the collapse, Jan. 5, 2008.

So there’s three months gone, and then, two more months where I’m pretty…not gone, but certainly out of it.

Like, I cannot recall huge chunks of life when, I guess, I appeared to others to be lucid, to have my eyes opened, even to mimic some form of speech, although, no form even vaguely familiar to anyone else in the room, or on the planet. The speech was fine with me, and I understood all of it. I didn’t know their problem.

I am even told I took some demonstrative control of my life and surroundings, and even try to change them, which got mixed reviews.

I evidently should have left the feeding tube alone, in Vermont, and some other things that were sticking out of, and sticking into me. I tend to meddle.

Even back on Long Island: I have no recollection of burning rubber in my wheelchair in the driveway after, “breaking out,” of the front door of St. Johnland, in Kings Park, the very first night I was there.

And, if I was trying to escape, it must have been in those fashionable PJ’s I otherwise wouldn’t have been caught dead in, which, now that I think of it, was appropriate for somebody who thought he was dead, anyway.

By the way, I didn’t know where I was; I don’t know yet where St. Johnland is; and, why, I wondered, wasn’t I goddam dead yet. (I mean, Dear Lord, if you can’t make up your mind, what chance do we have.).

Each morning that floats clearly in my memory of those days loses clarity and fades away just as fast, and some scenes that I remember vividly didn’t happen at all. Vivid scenes, proven to unhappen.

I think I learned on my last day at St. Johnland that there was a tag attached to the back of my wheelchair that read something like, “Escapee Risk,” or, “Suffers From The Delusion That He Can Talk.” It’s like a sign on your bumper that says, “Unintelligible, but otherwise harmless.” I reckon it was an early, “Watch out for this one,” warning.

They can tell me it wasn’t there. I can tell you I saw it. You can ask me, “How do you see the back of your wheelchair?” I can say, “Oh…yeah?”

I remember the physiotherapists read me right away. I mean, they took a look at my body and said, (in effect) “Well, no pull-up’s here;” certainly, no sit up’s, push-up’s, heavy weights, light-weights, feather-weights or weights. Whenever I came into their world, they knew, and I knew, that this was going to be an easy time, as long as they didn’t let me hurt myself.

The one thing I got was an all-purpose excuse. If I get an opportunity, I can say, “I had a stroke. I forgot…” whatever. “I forgot to bring my wallet;” “I forgot your name;” “I forgot the thirty bucks.”

So, things still are looking up.

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