I sort of shook myself out of my reverie and reached for a magazine to get my mind off of the subject. After spending some time absent-mildly reading it, I realized that instead of a magazine, I was turning the pages of the telephone book. I quickly looked around to make sure that no one had seen me and had to laugh at myself.
Many jokes have been made of the “Absent Minded Professor.” It happens to the best of us, to some a bit earlier than others, and it does seem to worsen with age.
I remember how we used to laugh at Mama for being absent-minded. One time she took out a cigarette and clicked on her lighter to fire it up. I could not help but laugh as I called her attention to the fact that she had a lighted one in the ashtray and another in the corner of her mouth. Another time she picked up a cigarette from the ashtray and put the lighted end of it into her mouth.
Mama was a diabetic, but I am afraid she did not stick to the diet prescribed for her. For instance she would pour herself a cup of coffee and sit down at the table, then absent-mindedly put spoonful after spoonful of sugar into it. I have seen her take a sip of it and then pour it out, but if we called her attention to it she would drink it anyway.
I REALIZED that I was getting a bit absent-minded one day when I was going to visit my good friend Maggie Inez Woodall who lives on Adams Circle about three quarters of a mile from the Rockmart Road. I was driving along and suddenly realized that I was almost within the city limits of Cartersville. When I had reached the red light at the intersection of the connector and U.S. 411, I had absent-mindedly turned left instead of right. Many accidents happen this way because we do not keep our minds on our driving.
Another incidence was the morning I was in a hurry to eat my breakfast and get to the Rome Area History Museum to open up because the director and his wife were out of town on business. I hurriedly shook some cereal into a bowl and absent-mindedly poured orange juice over it instead of milk. Needless to say, I missed breakfast that morning.
Another time I was working at Central Electric Company and that day the manager of a local freight line office had come by to offer me a job. I was quite happy with the job I had, so I politely declined his offer, but shortly afterwards the phone rang and I absent-mindedly answered it with the name of the freight line instead of Central Electric. It was a good thing that my boss was not in that day for I don’t think he would have taken kindly to that.
I know that I have a lot on my mind these days, what with my recent move into an assisted living facility and having to get rid of so many treasured mementos of the past; however, sometimes it is better to put the past behind us and go forward into the future with a brand new attitude. It isn’t easy though, when one finds himself absent-mindedly reaching into a drawer for something that we used so often, and then realizing that we no longer have it, or someone asks us what day it is and we have to look at the morning paper to find out. But life, such as it is, must go on.
SO I WILL remember the past and not dwell upon what used to be, but is no more, and find humor in things that I do absent-mindedly. After all, life is one series of learned habits. What if I need to open a can or bottle and reach for a can opener, then realize that it is a storage unit across town.
There is more than one way to skin a cat, so I improvise and find a way to get it open another way.
How I do hate these childproof caps on my medication. I will pick up a container and expect it to open easily, but not so. A little barely legible note across the cap says, “Press down, then turn to open.” Maybe someday the pharmaceutical companies will realize that those of us with arthritis lose the strength and dexterity in our hands and for many of us, “press down then turn to open” is sometimes impossible.
I remember when my youngest son quit smoking. For some time afterwards, I would see him pat his shirt pocket absent-mindedly expecting to find that package of cigarettes that used to be there at all times.
Now, have I saved this and copied it to my email to be submitted, or will I lose it completely when I shut down my computer?
Floyd County native Bernice Couey Bishop is a freelance writer.