Hello Memories

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February 15th, 2012

A photo series showing Rodney saying hello like he did back in 7th grade I learned sign language so I could talk with the cool girls in junior high. They used the one-handed alphabet to communicate behind the teacher’s back and since I’d try most anything to fit in, I borrowed a pamphlet from the […]

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https://readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcsignlanguage.jpgA photo series showing Rodney saying hello like he did back in 7th grade

I learned sign language so I could talk with the cool girls in junior high. They used the one-handed alphabet to communicate behind the teacher’s back and since I’d try most anything to fit in, I borrowed a pamphlet from the library and taught myself.

I thank those long-ago girls for teaching me a valuable life skill. Deaf people pretty much scoff when I whip out an H-E-L-L-O, so I just use it to this day as a memory aid. Conversations are fleeting things and if I don’t spell something out in my lap, I’m bound to forget it. Especially since the chemo, the transplant medication or the simple truth that I’m aging has robbed me of my once miraculous memory.

Let me qualify that. My long-term memory is still pretty much what it always has been. I can remember theme songs to long gone television shows as if I were still sitting in my jammies on my parent’s living room floor. Did you know there were two different opening songs to Happy Days?

My cousin Chris was the first to point out my crazy memory. I was telling him stories about the 1960s and 70s while he sat with his mouth literally agape. I shared these memories with him many years ago. I know because I remember remembering. Truthfully, I think my recall is so sharp because I was the youngest of five cousins (six actually, but I don’t like remembering when we lost Russell).

Everything that happened around my brothers and cousins was amazing to me, so it’s only natural that I’d remember things like the many different and intricate whiffle ball fields we set up (including the soon-to-be-left field fence we stole from Antioch College during their campus-wide general strike).

That stuff is easy to enshrine in my mind. Some of the stuff I conjure up is just plain weird though. I can barely remember what I saw in some of the world’s greatest museums, but I can easily recite the names Greg, Peter, Bobby, Marsha, Jan, Cindy, Mike, Carol, Alice and Sam the Butcher. God, I just did that in a few seconds. I didn’t even know that type of critical information was living upstairs. Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.

The information that skips in and out of awareness is more of the short term variety. If I desperately want to remember something when I get home, I’ll spell the first letter with my fingers and hope I remember what it stands for when I walk in from the garage (honest, officer, I couldn’t keep both hands on the wheel because I wanted to remember 2% milk and you can’t very well do that while making an M with your right hand).

My doctors tell me my flash memory will probably come back. All the silly and bizarre transplant complications have made even my word retrieval an issue. Sure, sitting here and typing stuff out gives me time to ponder what exact phrase I’m searching for. As an example, I’m not at all certain “flash memory” is the proper terminology, but give me a pass on that one, please.

I can live with a sparky recollection of immediate things. Some may argue that I could live without the Brady Bunch characters on their tic-tac-toe board in my head as well. But I had a killer ending to this train of thought and I think I lost it when I uncurled my fingers and began typing.

That’s my excuse and I’m… um…

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