There, attached to every cabinet and drawer were light yellow sticky notes, at least a hundred of them, all of which indicating where objects were housed. The words, all in large upper and lower case letters, were written in black ink. The words were simple things like forks, knives, spoons, bowls, cereal dishes, glasses, pans, baking dishes, toaster, pens, pencils, and paper.
At 29, I could not imagine living in such a world, a world that had to be processed by words on sticky notes, words learned at an early age, words that somehow have become jumbled with the objects they represent.
I understand that world today.
We have not gotten to the point where my father-in-law has the far away and distant look in his eyes, but his short-term memory is fading rapidly.
Discussions about the past, however, are usually brought to life almost immediately. Most of the time I see my father-in-law struggling, seeking a common ground, looking for a starting point, trying desperately to find a vague recollection.
But sometimes, when we least expect it, he catches us unawares.
My father-in-law remembers, for instance, that Jimmy Stewart is in the movie “Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation.”
He remembers that he and his wife played Monopoly when they were first married. “We played that game for hours,” he happily says, seemingly trying to hold on to the memory of that memory.
He remembers that his granddaughter is a nurse, that the other is a teacher, and that his grandson is a swimmer.
And on a good day, my father-in-law, with bright eyes and a familiar smile from days past, will blurt out something so funny, we all have tears of laugher running down our cheeks.
And for just a few minutes, just a few, all is right with the world.
Alvia Lewis Frey is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.