Mary Ann Ellis

Something in my brain malfunctions frequently, especially when I try to operate on automatic pilot. I realize that I am aging, but I cannot blame this condition on advanced years. I was born with my case of senility. It grew right along with me and is quite mature by now. 

One of my problems is language. Words do not flow off my tongue or drip like honey to turn into beautiful oral constructions; instead, they trip, fall, and fracture themselves into shattered fragments on the floor. Just last weekend, I said to Larry, “I’ve sorted the clothes already. Will you put them in the microwave for me? Don’t forget to add detergent.” He understood me perfectly. We’ve lived together a long time. Once I said to him, “I’m glad you speak my language.”

“I do not speak it, dear,” he replied. “I just understand it. There’s a big difference. Never forget that.”

I go to the cabinet and stand in front of it, wondering what I needed from it. I make elaborate grocery lists and leave them posted on the refrigerator when I go to the store. I used to mail the phone bill twice and forget to pay the electric bill, or I send the electric bill to the phone company and vice versa, but online bill pay solved that particular problem for me. Sometimes people ask me if I don’t fear hackers and cyber theft. I confess that those things sometimes cross my mind, but I believe paying online is better for me than the old way. The bills actually get to my creditors. I’m told that lots of people do little absent-minded things like the ones I described. Maybe so. I hope I’m not the only nut in the world.

Last week I couldn’t find the peanut butter. I searched every cabinet, checked the living room, the bedrooms. I realize those are not the usual storage places for the peanut butter, but it was missing, after all. Finally, I gave up and went to get a glass of tea. When I opened the refrigerator, there was the peanut butter on the middle shelf right beside the telephone. Wow! The phone? I’d found it before I even realized it was missing.

I used to spend hours searching for lost keys, but I finally found a solution to that problem. I bought one of those cute little clips and hook the keys to my purse anytime they are not in the ignition of the car. I haven’t lost my keys in a long time now. Sometimes I do lose the car though. I simply forget where I parked it, but that’s not a real problem in Baxley or Hazlehurst. When I go to Savannah or Atlanta, I have to be careful. Larry tells me that someone has created an app for the smart phone that will locate the car for me. I probably need to download it before I leave town again. I rarely lose my phone because I can’t travel without it. Google Maps lead me wherever I need to go—in Atlanta, Savannah, you name the place. I simply do not travel without it. I’d wind up in Timbuktu. 

I am a bit concerned though that this condition might be hereditary. One day Josh came in from work when he was working at the newspaper in Jesup, plopped down on the couch and removed his socks. He then left the room with dirty socks in hand. Two seconds later, he came back laughing. 

“I just went to the kitchen and threw my socks in the trash,” he laughed. 

At least his senility held off till his twenties.

He told me recently that my language problem would frighten him if it had recently started, but that he cannot remember a time when I spoke any differently. He recognizes my true condition.