It’s football season again. I see the football scores on the front pages of our local newspapers and hear folks talking about high school and professional teams as they pass each other in the grocery store. I’m not much of a watcher myself, even though I think I would have made a great player in my youth if they had allowed girls. I think I’m still holding a grudge about that.
I loved to play pickup games in college. We played a lot of flag football in the guy’s quad. I hated hanging out with the girls on the sidelines, and many times, somebody needed an extra player for a team. I have thick scars on my knees and elbows from an accidental tumble usually resulting in a fumble by yours truly.
This time of year I remember those games. I didn’t have the hand-eye coordination to play tennis or softball, but I could catch, run, and run over, between, around, and sometimes under those skinny boys. I was an asset until that ball got slippery or someone knocked it out of my hands. Many times I would watch incredulously as the ball left my arms where I thought I had it safely snuggled. As I struggled to be the one to regain control of the ball, I would berate myself for ever losing it in the first place.
Although I no longer play flag football – I’m not sure I ever did after my junior year – I will forever remember the feeling of the fumble. In fact, I’m still responsible for fumbling many things on a regular basis. Sometimes my calendar feels like a juggling act, and as I focus on my professional life, inevitably I fumble something important to my family. How many times have I “dropped the ball” on something important?
As my life has become more consumed with caring for Mom (and Dad, although I couldn’t admit it to him!), I have become quite scatterbrained about little things. I’ve left dozens of coffee cups balanced precariously on the bed of the truck, only to remember them as I heard them slide off and crash. I’ve left my phone at my home or Mom’s – I even washed it in the laundry a few weeks ago. I’ve left the house with two different shoes or totally mismatched clothes. If I had to guess, I’d say I’m totally put together less than 25% of the time.
I’m reading a book called Where Did I Leave My Glasses? The What, When and Why of Normal Memory Loss by Martha Weinman Lear. Since a running joke around my house is that I’m always looking for my glasses, I thought it might be an important book for me to read. According to Lear, I simply miss so much because I haven’t “encoded’ the experience. I haven’t purposefully made it a memory to remember my glasses, my phone, or my coffee. She guesses I don’t pay attention properly when introduced so I can later remember a name, details of an event, or even a shopping list. Since I now know what to do, I’m trying to do better!
One of the few times I feel secure and totally confident is when I’m holding Mom. When I lift her, I’m a rock. I’m not going to fumble here. This precious woman I hold is demanding 100% of my attention and I walk/carry her as if she were made of delicate crystal. Nothing distracts me and I “encode” each step so neither of us stumble. I am certain I could guide her to the bathroom or the dining room with my eyes closed, but of course I never would. Moving her is too important!
So if you see me fumble – whether literally or figuratively, – allow me a few mistakes. I don’t mind if you call my attention to it, but try not to judge me too harshly. You know a bit of my backstory now, and although I don’t know yours exactly, let’s plan to show each other grace in our fumbles, okay?