Show Empathy for Memory Challenged People

Know that our disability doesn’t make us bad

Brenda Mahler

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Photo by Laula Co on Unsplash

As I sat typing this morning, I heard a ping on my phone. It lit up and a message appeared with a bright red backdrop, “Thank you all for the wonderful birthday wishes yesterday . . . I am beyond blessed!” Oops, I did it again, missed a birthday. This time the neglected person was my sister-in-law. Knowing she would understand because she holds an awareness for my challenged memory, I simply wrote back, “Oh yeah! Happy birthday.” For an added touch I added a smiley face blowing a heart kiss.

I am memory challenged. Anybody with a similar affliction understands my dilemma. Sure, birthdays happen every year, but they occur 364 days after the last one, making them difficult to remember. And a lot of other stuff happens in between, specifically a lot of other birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc. You get my point. Anybody who really knows me, realizes my deficiencies are not mean spirited or self-centered; I simply don’t remember things: trash day, where I left my glasses, or where I parked my car.

If you find yourself bothered by a similar affliction, my best advice is to own it. Nobody blames a person for high blood pressure, cancer, or blindness. These disabilities create challenges to daily survival and memory deficiencies can also be debilitating. If a friend or relative lives with this curse support them with understanding and love.

I remember the day my daughter came home from school and announced they had celebrated her half birthday at school. She was in the first grade. After a long pause, I started counting on my fingers and confirmed my first thought, “This is not her half birthday.” Upon investigation, apparently, I had written the wrong date on her enrollment papers. She enjoyed the celebration, and I made the change on the paperwork the next year.

Then there was the time I called my father — just to check in. After small talk about recent events, the weather, and a planned get together coming up, he told me his birthday was yesterday. Of course, my first response prompted me to say, “Happy birthday.” Then when I asked why he didn’t remind me or even call yesterday, he said he waited for me to remember. The joke was on him because he should have known that waiting…

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Brenda Mahler

Real life person sharing real life stories. Writing about travel, dogs, and healthy lifestyles.