Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Sigh of Relief

As I get older, I get more liable to dismiss trivial details from my mind and sometimes I can't remember where I set the coffee cup I had in my hand just a minute ago. My mind is filled with lots more important details - for instance the ongoing rumination about where in the heck my ancestor Henry Hodge might have married his third and last wife. Where I set my coffee cup is immaterial - until I look down and it's not in my hand and I have no memory of where it might be. I know I just had it...where have I been lately?

Because my work demands that I be able to answer quickly and precisely what I've done with such and such project, I've developed little tricks to protect this occasional unpredictable memory hiccup. I have schooled myself to do the exact same process, file the exact same way in the exact same place, put materials back in the exact place they always reside. That way when I have a sudden fracture of memory about what I did yesterday, I can answer with confidence what happened. I always do that particular thing that particular way. 99% of the time it works just fine.

But then there is that 1%.

I have been buried in a mountain of paper for the last dozen years. Not only do I have an enormous amount of paper of my own to ride herd on (and this doesn't even include the piles and piles of paper I have amassed in my genealogical endeavors which is threatening to topple over and smother me), I have been the administrator of my mother's financial and medical records for this period. To be honest, anyone who looked at my filing system would think I have a bad organization problem, but I generally know where to find what I need when I need it. That's because I have that policy to always follow my established routines.

So earlier this week when I went to the place I always keep her insurance cards and they weren't there - well, to put it bluntly, I flipped out. I checked the alternate places I keep them when I'm traveling and I leave them behind in case they are needed while I'm gone. They weren't there. I began to systematically tear the house apart looking for them.

Since I've been involved in the massive declutter project as described in the previous post, things are topsy turvy around here to say the least. I came to the conclusion that I had absent-mindedly tossed them into a box of "to be filed". I dragged out all the boxes that had paperwork in them and that had been temporarily relocated to await a new permanent home. Not there.

I nearly ripped the lining out of my briefcase, thinking they might have slipped through a gap. Not there. My purse got the first thorough cleaning in months with the hope that I might have tucked them in an odd pocket. Not there.

I knew they had to be in the house somewhere. This morning I started over from the top, re-checking all the logical places they might be. Then I proceeded to the illogical places where I sometimes stick something when I'm in a hurry, intending to return and deal with the item properly when I get back home. Then I proceeded to the completely inane places they might be. No luck.

And then I had one of those faint glimmers of memory suddenly come alive in the back of my mind. I remembered that I had taken a recent trip, after all the decluttering had started, and my usual place to put important documents while traveling was no longer where it was supposed to be when I had departed. I had decided to tuck the little pouch containing her insurance cards into a spot in my genealogy filing cabinet, intending to retrieve them as soon as I returned and before I forgot what I had done.

And then I forgot.

There was a huge sigh of relief when I opened that file drawer and found the little pouch nestling cozily against my DAR file.

I am just going to have to start paying attention. Has anybody seen my coffee cup?


No comments: