At my age, I still have a strong need to be part of what’s going on; I want to have a hand in my aging process — a process I hope includes style, grace, and humor.
However, I find it’s difficult to cope with a memory that’s “almost gone over the hill” – especially when it comes to ensuring that I’m all together in the situations I most need to be. During times like these, I’m faced with such questions as:
1. If I’m going to church, do I have our offering, my glasses, cough drops, and Kleenex?
2. If I’m going to run errands, do I have my list?
3. If I’m undergoing a medical procedure, do I have my insurance cards and my list of medications?
4. If I’m going up to our activity center on the Heritage Heights campus, do I have on my name tag, have my outgoing mail and/or the materials needed for my writing class?
5. If I’m going for a walk with our Yorkie, Rosey, do I have a “poop” bag?
6. If I’m going anyplace outside, do I have my shoes on? (More than once, I’ve gotten in the car wearing my slippers or headed to church in my sneakers.)
7. Finally, if I’m going to bed, have I brushed my teeth and taken off my earrings? Do I have on my nightgown right-side-out?
It can all be very exhausting!
All of this brings to mind a book my mother read to me when I was very little, perhaps four years old. I still have the book carefully wrapped in plastic. The title of this worn, tired-looking little book is, “Noah and the Rabbit” by Herbert McKay. It’s a delightful nursery story.
The story is about toys living in an ark in a child’s nursery. They’re going on a picnic to the woods, a train ride away from the ark. All the toys have gone to the train station, leaving Noah and Rabbit to catch up. They took up their bags and hurried out of the nursery with just enough time to get to the station.
“Bother,” said Noah. “I’ve forgotten my umbrella.” Rabbit went on and Noah rushed back to the ark, but there was no umbrella in the umbrella stand. He put down his bag to look around.
“There it is,” he said. “It must have been under my arm all the time.” With umbrella in hand, he hurried off once more. He was racing along the road when he met Rabbit coming back.
“You’re going the wrong way,” said Noah. “I forgot the haddock”, said Rabbit. “You go on and I’ll run back for the fish”. Noah went on and Rabbit dashed back to the ark. He went straight to the larder and picked up the haddock.
Rabbit was heading up the road when he met Noah coming back. “I forgot my bag,” panted Noah. Rabbit went on and Noah hurried back to find his bag next to the umbrella stand.
And so it went, until finally both Noah and Rabbit ended up back at the ark. They each checked out the other to be sure they were carrying all the items they planned to take to the train station. In the end, they missed the train entirely, had to walk to the picnic woods, and were waylaid by a band of brigands (“those rascals that bind you up and rob you"). But when one brigand turned against the others, he helped Noah and Rabbit make it to the picnic just in time to hear the French doll being offered another cup of tea. All was well.
Now, when Kay and I are going off someplace — because neither of us has a dependable memory — we check on each other a la Noah and Rabbit.
“Have I got my list?”
“Have I got my wallet?”
“Have I got my gas card?”
“Gas card? Yes.”
“Have I got my shoes on?”
When we get back home, like the nursery toys, we’re once again snug in our own comfy ark.
“Good night, Noah”.
“Good night, Rabbit”.
Mary Lou Fuller lives at Havenwood-Heritage Heights in Concord, New Hampshire.