It also means that big chunks of my memory are suddenly missing. And I don’t mean trouble with short-term memory; that’s been plaguing me (and dear Anne!) since this stuff began. I mean the wonderful stuff I’ve gathered for decades, stowed away, and could draw on at will.
I mean the whole line of the kings and queens of England, Alfred the Great to Elizabeth the second. I could pull up their names and most of their coronation dates easily, and they became at easy reference for paralleling a given on in time with Louis XIV or Ivan the Terrible or Genghis Khan or Leif Erickson — and with historic events back to the A.D. eighth century. And the same with the line of Caesars and with the events of their reigns and with their famous contemporaries.
These days, I reach for the fourth century B.C. or the A.D. ninth century, and they’re gone. My long-term memory is like a glacier, large chunks of which are breaking off and drifting away into the misty seas. I think that process is called, “calving.” Well, my head’s calving at a great rate.
And so: When shaky hands on the keyboard align with decaying memory and shaky thinking— then, as the saying goes, “That’s all she wrote.” In my case, “he.” And literally.
Jim Austin’s got a last column on file, in case this should happen suddenly (strokes, mini and maxi, hit guys my age and condition; and embolisms, too.) But I’m planning that Jim won’t have to pull that column out of the file for a long, long, time. I’m planning a leisurely, if ungraceful, descent down this slope, with pauses to rest along the way.
And, apart from my shaky physical being, how about the far more important question? As Quakers would ask, “Is it well with thy soul?”