Aging Parents, Stress And Your Memory

Posted: 8 years ago | By: Christine Somers | In: Our Aging Parents | Read Time: 2 minutes, 0 seconds

I've spent the morning looking through filing cabinets, boxes in closets and plastic bins full of photographs. I am searching for my grandmother's letters and for the life of me I don't know where they are. Maw Maw saved all the personal letters mailed to her by her two sisters and sister-in-law. Currently, my emotions are in check but the thought of losing her letters could bring me to tears. 

My grandmother and the women in her life didn't write of grand events; they wrote of their everyday lives of baking, sewing and caring for others. I read of the making of dresses for church or the baking of a cake for a family meal. My grandmother and her sisters had to leave school after the fourth grade to help support the family by working in the local textile mill. The spelling and sentence structure is frozen in a time when family economics dictated how long a girl could remain in school. I love the memories of my grandmother that these letters resurrect and now, I can't find them.

I believe in a moment of organizational frenzy I put them someplace safe. The desire to control and organize was strongest during the last six months of my mother's life when I had no control and my life felt unorganized. As a result, my safe place is so safe even I can't remember where it is. Scientific American states this kind of memory loss occurs because the voluntary searching mechanism that I am relying on to retrieve the whereabouts of the letters is prone to interference and forgetfulness.  The interference may have been the stress of managing life while caring for my mother or forgetfulness because my focus was elsewhere. 

I continue to remind myself that my grandmother's letters will turn up and the logic of where I put them will make perfect sense once I find them. If you are going through a stressful time, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself. Or if you know someone who has lost a parent or loved one be kind and gentle with him or her. Their forgetfulness may not be an indication of their affection for you but a reflection of the stress in their life. Plato's quote says it best, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."