Friday, September 01, 2006

Memory or forgetery

Tomorrow I have to take part in a "This is your Life" event for an old friend who has reached his 70th birthday. For as long as I can remember he has been the chief steward at our church, His job is to meet and greet people as they enter the church, and his memory for faces and details of people is phenomenal. He alwys has a cheerful smile and always remembers what your last problem was. He knows the names of your wife and children, He notices if you miss a Sunday and is quick to check up to see that you are not ill.

The trouble is, I am supposed to say something about him from my point of view that will be different from what everybody else will say. Try as I might I find this very difficult. You see, the sort of people skills that he has I lack. I really can't remember people's names. I rely on my wife to tell me who people are and what I should remember about them. I sometimes become unsure of the simplest things. I remember spending hours worrying about whether there was such a word as 'this' or had I made it up? I am very good at remembering bizarre odd facts and diseases. I just don't bother with the ordinary things of life. I can't remember what I had for dinner yesyerday, what I was wearing last Sunday, which month it is or whether I have sent so-and-so a bill. Unless I make lists, nothing gets done.

Now I can remember one thing about him. many years ago he did some wall-papering for us, and I realized afterwards that he had put one of the sheets upside down. But I wouldn't want to embarrass him by telling him that after all this time. We used to play cricket for the same team. On one occasion playing against the Plymouth Brethren I broke my leg. Someone, I think it was him, very kindly drove me to the hospital. I could remind him of that, but suppose it wasn't him. Would that embarrass him? Gosh! What a dilemma!


Vance Esler said...

I am the same. I remember faces, but I cannot always pull the name out of a hat. If I see patientd in the office, I can tell you what disease they have, where they are in their course, and many details about their private lives. But I cannot remember their named.

If I see patients outside the office, I know they look familiar, but I cannot always place them.

I have long joked that my brain can only hold so much. If I put a fact into long-term memory, one falls out.

I have no idea why I recall some of the things that I do, and why I cannot recall some of the things I have to keep looking up.

It is frustrating!

Anonymous said...

It may not be much of a suggestion but it sounds as if you really admire the man and that is a great starting place for any toast to someone. So what if he put some paper on upside-down...he wallpapered your room! And maybe he wasnt the one who drove you to the hospital but he is probably the sort who would! Recall some cricket plays you were involved in together and be self-deprecating in the way you admire his recall. Lament that he never bothered to share his secrets with you because you really could use them! You are both men who have dedicated their lives to helping people in your own special way - what kind of world would this be w/o such diverse caring people?

Thanks for lending us your energy and time, Dr H. I am sure you will hit one out when it comes your turn!