While Oxford and Webster’s dictionaries continue to add hundreds of new words to their pages, my mind is trying to erase the words stored in my memory.
The dictionaries get thicker, and the Scripps National Spelling Bee that’s now televised annually has young people able to spell the most arcane and obscure of words.
And they keep adding more words all the time.
I keep a small dictionary inside my top drawer to provide spelling assistance when my mind draws a blank. It hasn’t been updated since I bought it back in the early 1970s.
I used to think that I could remember everything. However, I found that if I didn’t write reminder notes to myself, the details and meetings would be forgotten.
I stopped trusting my memory for those things.
I went to introduce someone this morning whom I have known for more than three decades. But when I went to say ‘Meet . . .,’ her name disappeared out of my mind.
I scrambled and fortunately came up with her first name moments later by just using her last name.
I felt foolish, but this seems to be happening with more regularity.
When the word doesn’t arrive at my tongue, I might cover it up by describing the article, or referencing the place as next door to, or you know the brother of.
And the person who I am talking to will give me the name and I will say, “You’re right” as if it was a test. The cover-up seems to work well.
It does have its drawbacks, though. Sometimes the pause while I come up with the description seems too long. Other times, the person I am talking to will jump in and assist me by giving me the word I’m seeking.
Sometimes, those lost words will haunt me for an evening and then they will just appear, and I will say privately to myself, “Now learn this over again.” Or I might say to myself, “How could you forget John’s name?”
The word will stick and the next time a new missing word fails to arrive on my tongue, the last one that I forgot will be remembered.
My word processor on my computer offers great help. If I can’t think of a word, I often can write down a synonym, go to the thesaurus, and find the word I need.
I think that I’m not alone. Many friends are telling me they are suffering momentary lapses of memory while their minds search for words. It goes something like this, ‘”Just a minute, I am having an aging moment.”
We all know that they either have lost their train of thought or the word they wanted to use.