My mind is not very sharp any more – if it ever was. When severe memory loss begins to haunt me, I am, of course, greatly concerned. Since I consume an awesome variety of medications daily, my doctor daughter, Perri, drills me as she fills the pillboxes. “What do you take in the morning? In the evening?” I try, but I despair. Often I can’t remember anything!
Deeply depressed about this, I lamented my blank mind to my eighteen- year old grandson, Anatol.
This was a stroke of genius!
Anatol said, “Why not try mnemonics? The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to remember speeches and stories? They called it ‘memory palace’ or the method of loci (place).” What you do is visually imagine a ridiculous scene in a familiar setting.” He paused. “In your case, we should probably use your childhood apartment in Williamsburg. Let’s try it.
“Okay? You walk up to the door and what do you see?”
“There’s a mezuzah on the doorpost. And a small hall rug.”
Then, he asked Perri, “What’s the first drug?”
“Good. Now we need to brainstorm,” he said. “What could startle us there right in front of the mezuzah?” He pondered. “I have it! We see Amelia Earhart peeing on the rug.” He smiled triumphantly.
Then he asked Perri. “Next medication.”
“ANASTROZOLE,” she told him. He was silent.
I wondered if he was serious. Did he really expect me to remember these lengthy scenarios when my mind couldn’t hold on to a single-word name of a pill?
“I have it!” he smiled. “We enter the apartment and find A NASTY TROLL sitting on your mother’s couch that no one was allowed to sit on!”
Well, those ancient Greeks and Romans weren’t dumb!
Anatol was right. I do remember and I’ve added more drugs to Anatol’s list. For example, from the pile of noisy, carping, unpleasant relatives who invaded our house on Sunday afternoons came PILOCARPINE.
And when that unwelcome crew finally went home, my courteous weary mother always stood at the door and said, “Come again.” In my head I hear it now as the medication, COMBIGAN.
I remember! And remembering makes me laugh. Can I carry a head full of such scenarios?
You bet I can!