Three sisters, aged 92, 94, and 96, live in a house together.
One night, the 96-year-old draws a bath. She puts her foot in and pauses. She yells down the stairs: "Was I getting in or out of the bath?"
The 94-year-old yells back: "I don't know. I'll come up and see." She starts up the stairs and pauses. Then she yells: "Was I going up the stairs or down?"
The 92-year-old is sitting at the kitchen table having tea, listening to her sisters. She shakes her head and says: "I sure hope I never get that forgetful." She knocks on wood for good measure.
She then yells: "I'll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who's at the door."
To me, the above joke is so relevant that it seems to be on me. You see, although I'm a long way from 90, this morning I forgetfully left my keychain at a food court which I visit almost every Saturday. I was walking back to my car when I realised that my keychain was missing and that really freaked me out. I wasn't afraid that someone would break into my home but rather, replacing my car's keycard (which unlocks car as well as starts the engine) costs more than $400! And it had to be specially ordered from France. Meanwhile, if you lose the only other spare keycard too, you'd better get used to using public transport for the next two months because it takes that long for the replacement keycard to arrive. Fortunately, one of the staff at the food court had kept my keychain safely. I thanked her profusely when she returned the keychain to me.
Like a 90-year-old, the wife yelled: "This is the second time that you lose your keychain in past week. Next time always remember to check first before you leave a place, okay?"
Ridden with utmost guilt and remorse like he just murdered someone, the husband could only think quietly to himself: "Yes, I remember losing my keychain last week but thankfully for my poor memory, I've already forgotten about that unhappy incident until you reminded me now. And I totally agree that if I always check first before I leave a place, such an incident could be avoided. Obviously, I also forgot to check, right?"
(Note: The preceding 2 paragraphs are NOT a continuation of the joke quoted from the New Paper.)
If I go back further in time and remember correctly, there were also a few occasions when I left my keychain hanging from the keyhole of my flat's front door after unlocking it. On one or two occasions, this careless act was discovered by me and hence I was spared a woman's fury. However, at other times, I was not so lucky. There was even one occasion when I had left the key dangling from the letter box at the void deck at my block - it was like sending an open invitation to a burglar to pay a courtesy call to my flat. Luckily, a good neighbour found the keychain and returned it promptly to me. Once, I dropped my keychain in Chris' car while lunching out with him and had to trouble my wife to come to my office after work so that I could drive the car home with the spare keycard.
Then recently, I nearly missed a turn on the expressway while sending my younger son for tuition class. The expected yells followed. (Funny, I don't remember ever marrying this woman.)
Could it really be that I am getting forgetful because I am getting old? Does age inevitably comes with forgetfulness and weak ankles? My mind refuses to believe that. For proof, just look at people like MM Lee and our President. They are well past their 80s and yet their minds are easily many times sharper than mine. Of course, I know that I am making an unfair (to me) comparison here. Yet, we cannot deny the fact that countless of our brain cells are dying every minute and our bodies are getting physically weaker as we age. Eventually, all of us cannot escape death when our bodily functions fail us permanently, whether from old age or from illness. As they say, the mind may be willing but the body is weak.
A recent research concluded that forgetfulness was due to stress. Chris will vouch that I appear to be one of the least stressed persons in the office. But as another colleague MGC said, I could be like a duck swimming in a pond - looking very calm above the surface but paddling frantically below the waterline. Perhaps I am getting stressed up due to all that yelling at home.
The mind works in mysterious ways - while there are some things which we want to remember but find it hard to do so, there are other things which we want to forget but find it just as hard. Some of us find great difficulty in remembering the 3 F's - facts, figures and formulas - especially when we are studying for exams. However, we have no problem remembering pleasant experiences. For example, I could remember very clearly my personal experiences that happened during my honeymoon in New Zealand more than 17 years ago. I could recall events that occurred in the day time as well as in the night but I shall not go into details here (as there are young people reading my blog). One thing I remember very distinctly is that there was no woman yelling at me at that time. But then again, I don't think that I was so forgetful then that I deserved a yelling or two.
At the other end of the scale, people also find it very hard to forget unpleasant incidents. For instance, it is never easy when we suddenly lose someone close to us, regardless of whether he/she is a loved one or "a loved once". (Those of you who did not marry your first boyfriend/girlfriend will know what I mean.) Let me illustrate with a real life example by citing another article from the same day's New Paper:
A woman died in hospital in July last year after developing a skin disease as a result of a drug allergy. The state coroner had ruled out any criminal negligence on the part of any medical staff who treated her. Yet the woman's father found it very hard to accept that nobody was found responsible for his daughter's sudden demise. He even stripped himself in protest at the College of Medicine building recently in a bid to get the Health Ministry to reopen the case. Counsellors and psychiatrists advised that in this case, the father needed to go through the mourning process, however long. He should try to get over his grief by not constantly dwelling on the past. Of course, that is easier said than done but the father must try to forget the past, not her daughter.
One good thing - despite my forgetfulness lately, I think that I still remember to update my blog at least once a week. (I just checked and found that this is indeed true.) Maybe I am suffering from selective amnesia. Whatever the case, if one day you find that I fail to update my blog for 2 weeks or more, it could be that one or more of the following things happened:
1. I am really busy (with my other "obsessions");
2. Someone has been yelling at me not to spend so much time on the computer;
3. I actually forgot (unlikely but can happen); and/or
4. Something worse has happened (don't know whether likely or not, but can't be ruled out either).
In any case, for all of the above scenarios, Chris will surely update you via his blog or via a comment on my blog. (He usually pens a poem about spider webs and the like.) Provided that he too didn't forget to do so.