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Somehow, I can't seem to remember.

I don't feel so good. Waking from a nap, I stretch and yawn. What was it I was supposed to do? Oh, yeah. Today is the day I have that special assignment at work. The boss, Mr. Lumprey, gave me that assignment because I did so well with the Trafton matter. I sure was proud of that job. That was a tough one.

But as I glance at my watch, I notice that it's 10:20. How could it be so late? And what am I doing, sitting at home when it's so late in the morning?

Oh, no! I'm just a little mixed up. Mr. Lumprey was my last boss. That was a couple of years ago. Now my boss is Mr. Rosgrove. Rosgrove hasn't been completely happy with me. He doesn't understand that I've been around for a lot of years and I know what I'm doing. I've always been a real competent guy. Rosgrove sometimes jokes about my memory problems. So what if I can't remember every darn thing? Who has a perfect memory? Once in a while, I forget a fact or two. Big deal. He's kind of a jerk and I don't appreciate his jokes when I'm a little forgetful. These young guys think they know everything.

Boy, is Rosgrove gonna be irritated with me today. I know I was supposed to be at work a few hours ago, but I don't remember what job I'm working on today. I'm a heavy equipment operator. Somehow, I can't seem to recall what the current project is. Maybe it's that project for the big office building at 4th and Washington. No, I guess not. That went up a few years ago.

But now, I seem to remember some sort of fight with Rosgrove. When was that, anyway? Was it just yesterday? That doesn't seem quite right. Maybe a week ago. Could it be that I'm out of work right now? Did I apply for unemployment yet? I better get on the stick and get that application in. I've been on unemployment before. I know I have. Somehow, I can't seem to remember when it was that I was on unemployment the other times, but I know I was and I can even remember the amount of the check -- $249.83. My memory is fine.

Maybe I'd better get up, clean myself up and get down tothe union, see if I can pick up a new job. Gotta keep that cash coming in. After all, I've got five young children and a wife to support.

Wait a minute, I think that some of my kids are grown and out of the house. There's Tommy, Ginger, Sam, Harold and. . .What's the other one's name? Maybe I only have four kids. No. I'm sure I have five. Did one of them die? And which one was it? Oh, yeah...Harold was killed by a drunk driver. What about Mary? Did I think of Mary? Mary's in the hospital right now. Her alcohol habit got out of control. Or did she die, too? Or was it that she almost died? I seem to remember seeing her after the alcohol treatment, but I don't remember if she started drinking again. Maybe she started drinking again and we haven't seen her for awhile. Wasn't it my wife who used to say, "More alcohol and that girl's not gonna make it. She's killing herself"? Yeah, that's what Ethel used to say. What kind of Dad am I? I can't even remember if my kid is alive or dead.

Sad feelings. God, I feel sad when I think about Harold. That day at the hospital when the kid got hit by a drunk driver. Died within an hour.

Damn tears are dripping down my cheeks. No damned handkerchief. I'll use the sleeve of my shirt.

I sure don't recognize this shirt. Or these pants. What kind of chair is this? And where the hell am I?

I'm in a big room, bigger than my living room. Where's my wife, Ethel? Hey, Ethel! Ethel! Where the hell are you, Ethel?

A pretty young girl walks over to me and says, "Ethel's not here, Mr. McFadden. She'll come and visit you Wednesday." What the hell is that girl talking about? Ethel's hot going to visit me. Ethel lives here. We've shared a bed for years. I was gonna say twenty years, but maybe it's more. After all, I'm 57 years old. And I know we got married when I was 19 years old. I guess it's more than 20. Is that 28 years? No, more like 30. I can't quite figure it out. I remember that big party the kids had for us. Could it have been 50 years of marriage they were celebrating? I guess so. Maybe I'm older than 57. Guess I must be. I don't feel so old. I was born on March 17, 1918. I can't quite remember what year it is right now, but it looks like it's winter because there's snow outside.

I stretch and yawn again, but I can't seem to get up. What is that thing on me? Some weird clothing and belt thing. It's caught in the chair and it's holding me down. I tug at it. I tug hard. I try to rip the damn thing. What the hell is this? And what it this place?

Now, I'm getting real upset. I'll yell. That'll get me some help. "God damn it! Get me out of this thing! I gotta get up and I gotta get to work! Get me out of here now!" What are these people doing to me? No one is coming to help. They don't care. There are young people over there, but they seem to be taking care of a few old guys over there.

A young man finally comes over and says to me, "Good morning, Mr. McFadden. It's time for your shave." What the hell is wrong with these people? Why can't I shave myself? And why can't I decide when it's time to shave? As he starts to use the shaver, I fight him. He calls a few other people over and they hold my arms and legs. I fight hard, try to kick a few of their asses, cuss at them a little.

Afterwards, I'm a little worn out. Maybe I'll take a nap. I can't figure out much of anything. Why am I so mixed up? And how am I gonna get to work? Ideas seem to flit in and out of my mind like butterflies. Words and names, bits and pieces. I can't quite grasp them. They slide out of my head before I can grab onto them.

I don't seem to have keys or money in my pocket. What has happened to me? Isn't my truck in the parking lot? And who are these old people sitting around me? There's an ugly old woman who swears and calls out for her momma. Why doesn't she shut up? I'd like to go and shut her up. If I could get up, I'd shove something in her face to quiet her down. She's driving me crazy.

Thoughts keep passing in and out of my mind. I start to think of something, and then I can't remember what it was I was thinking of. And I can't seem to find anything that's mine. I want my keys. I want something to eat. I don't think I've had anything to eat for days. I sure don't remember breakfast this morning or dinner last night.

What are these people doing to me? Are these people here to torture me? Are these young people the Russian? But they don't look much like Russians and they speak English.

Pretty tired now. Guess I'll go to sleep for awhile. Maybe when I wake up, things will be clearer.

Kathleen S. Mayers, PhD, is a counselor in the Geropsychiatric Medical Unit, Western State Hospital, Tacoma, WA.
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Title Annotation:Family Matters; possible thoughts of an older person suffering with dementia of the Alzheimer's type
Author:Mayers, Kathleen S.
Publication:Nursing Homes
Date:Jan 1, 1992
Previous Article:A fail-safe resolution for the new year.
Next Article:A resident who advocates - for residents.

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