Posted on Leave a comment

Table Apple Penny

Oh yeah, I beat that old man in the Senior Games Racewalk!

Oh God, it’s that time of year again. Time for my Old Lady Exam. As you’re reading this, I will be at my doctor’s office for another Medicare Wellness Visit.

I have to say, that first visit to my doctor after I went on Medicare really took me by surprise. I was given a form to fill out in the waiting room. “Please check the appropriate box, below. Can you perform the following activities: a) on your own, b) with help, or c) not at all? Use a Telephone, Bathe Myself, Get Groceries, Feed Myself, etc.”

What the hell?? I was shocked and indignant.

My son pointed out that I had, ironically, posted this same photo twice, on Instagram.

Inside the exam room, I was using my cell phone when the doctor walked in. “Look!” I said. “I’m using my phone all by myself!” Okay, that was a bit unkind. She had a puzzled look so I mentioned the Old Lady Form I’d just been asked to fill out. She admitted she would be asking me a few “silly” questions, since it was a Medicare visit. But first there were three words I would need to remember: table, apple, penny. She said them slowly so I’d have time to let them sink in. Then there were the questions. What year is it? Who is the President? In what city are we? Etc. And after that, What are those three words? Hmm . . . let me think.

Now I’d caught on. I waited for her to ask me to spell WORLD backwards, like they’d asked my mother when she first had one of those exams. She nailed it, so I’ve been practicing ever since. But no. Rats.

I went home and reported this whole episode on Facebook. The next day, when I walked into the gym for pickleball, a friend yelled out, “TABLE APPLE PENNY!!”

I’ll let you ponder why this photo.

The following year my doctor asked me to remember those same three words. When she tested me on them, I said, “Table apple penny. You asked me those last year.” Aha! Who needs to have their memory checked now?

Oh sure, my memory isn’t what it used to be. My sons point out every little lapse and every little thing I tell more than once. But just look at all the things I have to remember, keep track of, take care of, and do! I teach piano. I write these letters. I have a card business and two websites. I take care of a house, a car, a load of bills, two elderly dogs and all their meds. I’m learning Mah Jongg, for God’s sake. I have 71 years of memories, books, facts, movies, jokes, quotes, and recipes floating around in my brain. I can’t be expected to remember who died in The Snap in whatever the hell Marvel movie I watched with Oliver. Those movies all run into each other, anyway. There’s always an evil guy who wants to take over the world (spelled backwards, that’s DLROW) and the heroes have to wreck the vicinity in order to stop him.

Bring it on, doctors! I’m ready. We Old Ladies are ready! TABLE! APPLE!! PENNY!!!

Forgetfulness – Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue
or even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall

well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.
If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *