I Forget - by Dave Clapper

In my more lucid moments, I know that I am sick, that I have Alzheimer’s. Quite often, these moments have been more frustrating than the times when I reverted back to childhood. I know that in my off-periods I’ve hurt people that I loved. I know there have been occasions when I didn’t recognize my son. Once or twice, even my husband was a stranger to me. And I remember those times when the clarity returns.

When I was much younger, I was an executive’s secretary. I touch-typed eighty words per minute. In those days, we typed on manual Smith Coronas and we had to be perfect. We often used carbons to make additional copies of correspondence as we worked. This correctional ink they have now—Fluid Paper?—would have been useless to us. If we made one error on a given page, we might have tried to
pass it through, but more than that required beginning anew.

They won’t let me use writing utensils here. They worry that I might harm myself. It’s frustrating. I’ve always been an avid letter writer. I enjoy the feel of the pen between my fingers as the ink flows across the page. I’ve noticed that many people nowadays don’t write in long hand; they all print. Cursive seems to be a lost art, as perhaps is correspondence.

One of my attendants found an old IBM Selectric tucked away in a supply closet. She persuaded the staff to let me have it and now I’m putting it to use. The home row is a comfort to me, although the vibrations of the keys under my fingers seem alien.

I can’t recall the attendant’s name. I think it’s Susan. She’s nice. She recognizes my phases and takes the typewriter away when I’m regressing and brings it back on days when I seem more myself. She’s encouraged me to record what I remember on my good days. I like her.

I remember that my husband’s name is John. We’ve been married for fifty-eight years. That’s an awfully long time. We had two children, both boys. One of them died in a war, although I can’t recall which one and I can’t ask, because everyone will worry that the answer might upset me. The other visits. His name is Phillip. He’s a good boy. He’s married too, I think. I want to say he has two children, but I can’t think of their names. He works in a bank.

Susan just came in and saw me typing away. She smiled. She has on a nametag, which I appreciate. It’s good to know that I was correct about her name. That’s something, isn’t it?

The worst thing about this disease, I think, is the look I see in John’s eyes. He always looks as if he’s afraid of me, of what he’ll find on any given day. I know that my condition has progressively deteriorated. Today, I even know that the wing of the home where I stay is reserved exclusively for patients prone to violence. I regret that.

I get scared, too. When I don’t know where I am, I want to go home to my parents, to someone who
will take care of me. I know that they passed a long time ago, but sometimes when I’m frightened, I forget.

Susan has just asked me to take my medication, which I know will make me sleepy, so I’d better cut short my typing for the day. Hopefully, tomorrow will be another good day and I can record more.
march 2004
Dave Clapper lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two sons. He has recently been published in Tryst, Pindeldyboz, and right here at Cold Glass, among others. Additionally, he is a founding member of Criminals From the Neck Up and publishes SmokeLong Quarterly.  Read Dave's previous work here.

© 2004 - Dave Clapper - All Rights Reserved