Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Writing in my Notebook

Last night, we rented a romantic video called The Notebook which seemed like a fine notion for Valentine's Day. In fact, it was a fine notion, a fine movie, a fine romantic drama. It was not altogether airy and light, however: to the point where both Cuppa and I were left as blubbering heaps as the final credits rolled past our tear-blurred eyes.

Hmm. How do I continue this exposition without destroying the film for readers? I didn't think of that before I began this post.

Let me confine myself to revealing that the plot revolves around a love story that spans decades and that it also involves Alzheimer's or some form of old-age memory-loss. An old man in a retirement residence reads his story from a notebook, a story of him and his young love, to a female resident who is suffering from the dreaded affliction: the dreaded affliction which also causes me some angst.

Just over six years ago now, we buried my father. He had lived to a ripe old age and died from cancer which began in the prostate. In the last few years of his life, he also lost much of his cognitive grip on external reality. While he never lost the ability to identify those close to him, he did lose his sense of time and place — of the present and quite a lot of the past too.

Just two nights ago, I opined to Cuppa that I had some reason to believe that this same ineluctable process may be beginning to occur in me. I notice that some words begin do their best to elude my tongue. Just the other day, I had to reminded of the word for something that spells the same forward or backward: a palindrome — not an unfamiliar word to me. "Do you remember?" becomes a question that more and more frequently seems to draw a negative response from my lips.

Perhaps I overreact; perhaps not. Whatever the case, the synchronicity of uttering my concerns one day and seeing the movie on the next was profoundly disturbing to say the least. Perhaps that is why the film so moved me. Perhaps someone who remains immortal would not be so moved. Perhaps someone without some familial history of Alzheimer's would not be so moved.

I remember when I became mortal or, to be precise, realized that I was mortal. It occurred in my late thirties, and I believe that I have mentioned it before in this blog-stream that I offer humanity, so I will refrain from much elaboration. Suddenly, however, or so it seemed, the realization was there, there where it hadn't been a moment, or an hour, or a month before. While we all know about our mortality in a vague way, I suppose it takes an existential moment for it to be made palpable to our souls.

So it is that I do not know whether it is my age and history that caused The Notebook to so move me. But move me it did and not in an altogether forlorn way despite moving me to tears. It was more touching than sad, more uplifting than depressing. It must be, therefore, a five star recommendation from this poor sod. Or is it four stars? I forget which system I employ (he said in a feeble attempt at humour.)

Whatever my lurking future, I do know and once again repeat my mantra that our lives lie in the moment, this moment. The past is a bucket of ashes; the future lies shrouded in the mist. I write in my life's notebook as each day unfolds itself and trust that it will be a good story in the end.



Iona said...

Nicely put! Especially those last few sentences. I wish I could write like that! Well, maybe if I try REALLY hard. But it probably will take me hours...
Your entries are always so hmm, what's the right word... don't know.

What I mean is, it's like your words are carefully weighed in a scale before you write them. They're not just blurted thoughts, like you read on other blogs sometimes.
Do you spend a lot of time thinking about *how* you're going to describe something?

Loner said...

Here is another vote for the five stars - we went to see the Notebook on the recommendation of two friends. I thought the emotional roller coaster of loving and losing and the choices we make were so well dramatized. My favorite part was the discussion between mother and daughter at the construction yard- truth is you just never know when love will bite you in the ankles and you have to pay attention!

Wash Lady said...

That movie touched me so deeply that I sat in the dark for almost 2 hours after the credits ran. Part of that time I cried.

The same thing is happening with my husband (you guys are the same age) and it worries me sometimes beyond comprehension.

One day at a time, to the fullest :)

Christi said...

Coincidentally, I, too, watched The Notebook in the past few days. I also put a good word out on it on my blog, although not so good as yours.

I know what you mean about the fear of dementia and all that good stuff. I watched the movie with a friend of mine whose grandfather has Alzheimer's, and I know that she's scared of the whole process. My granddaddy also has Alzheimer's, as did my great-grandmother. My grandmother's family doesn't have any history of it, and she reassures me that it is unlikely that it will pass down anymore. However, I watch my mom on a regular basis forgetting things that just shouldn't be forgotten. She's just barely fifty, and already she has to ask me every week what days my husband is off (up until a few weeks ago, it was the same days every single week, and she would ask every single week). I can have a conversation with her, and she won't remember it the next day. What's worse is that I can tell already, at 26, that I will have problems with memory. I have never been a great rememberer (is that a word?) as it is. I really don't remember things for very long after they happen. Within a few weeks from now, I won't be able to tell you half of the things that happened in the movie. My great-grandma was pretty much braindead most of my conscious life. My granddaddy was awesome when I was little. Now he has no idea who I am, and only knows who my grandma is b/c he sees her all day everyday. I don't know exactly what he knows of her, though. It's a terrifying thing. My mom doesn't like to talk about it, b/c my granddaddy is the only person left in her family on his side, and we all know what's coming our way. I do know that the movie really affected me in a lot of ways. I think it was mostly b/c it was about love, and I am at that stage of my life where I am really realizing what I have, and how lucky in love I am. Plus, I'm pregnant, and everything I feel is exaggerated by about a million times! I have to say, though, that it really disturbed me, more than I thought it should, when she suddenly forgot him and went nuts. That was the scariest and most teary-eyed part of the movie for me. I could not imagine how that must have felt for him, and then to find out that he had had that experience over and over again! It got me wondering what my grandma must go through everyday with my granddaddy. It has to be the hardest thing in the world for her. She's a lot like Duke in the movie. She refuses to leave his side, and doesn't want any help taking care of him. That has to be true love if ever it did exist! I just wonder how my husband will react when I one day forget my whole life with him?

writersblock said...

The best part about alzheimers is that you meet new friends every day. :)

I'll put notebook on the list of things to do.

timx said...

Judging by your photo you are younger than me - but I understand that the mind starts deteriorating at about age 30. The symptoms you describe have been with me for years, but I really can't remember whether I'm supposed to worry about it or not!

Karla said...

This has nothing to do with your posts, but I wanted to let you know that I felt inspired to do something more with my blog header after seeing your new raindrop pics. You, Cuppa and Katt started adding more pics and making your blogs extra fancy, so I had to jump on the bandwagon!

Badpatty said...

Yeah, Loner and I were both a little sniffly after this one. It was an incredibly sad film, but that's not what I took out of it. What I got out of it was the raw hope and love that it portrays. The man's devotion to his bride and to their relationship was incredibly moving. That he never gave up hope was inspiring. I've seen dementia take hold in family members and can attest to how terrifying it is. I'll end with this: the film's ending was the best that it could possibly have been.