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Shopping with a List—For the First Time

Maybe it was time to accept that everyone forgets stuff as they age.

Edward Grinnan
Credit: Katye Martens Brier

I did something today that I have never felt the need to do before: I made a shopping list. 

Wait, what? 

That’s right. I finally bit the bullet. All my life I’ve prided myself on my memory. I made it a point never to make a shopping list when I set out for the grocery store even though my wife Julee took a dim view. Okay, so occasionally I slipped up and forgot something trivial that we probably didn’t really need anyway. On those rare occasions, I preferred going back to the store rather than face the humiliation of making a list. But lately….

There was a time if you asked me, I could tell you exactly what I did on a day two weeks previous, and delight in the telling. Maybe it wasn’t so much pride I had in my memory but pridefulness. I’ve written about my anxiety over the little slips in memory I’ve noticed recently, especially given my family history of Alzheimer’s. That anxiety looms large, like a daily shadow, as it does for many of you who have shared your experiences with me.

Hence the shopping list.

I committed the list to my phone and then proceeded to ignore it while I shopped. I just couldn’t bring myself to look at it. I was astonished by my own stubbornness. I decided to use it as a checklist instead. As I loaded my groceries into the back of the Jeep, I checked everything against the list on my phone. Eureka! I hadn’t forgot a thing. Not. One. Thing. I didn’t know whether to jump for joy or fall to my knees. Thank you, Lord! Thank you! 

That prayer felt as if it bounced right back at me. How foolish I was being, to say nothing of inefficient. Yes, I was being prideful. Yes, I was being stubborn. But I was also in denial. Denial that maybe, after all these years, it might not be a bad idea to take a list to the store and use it because everyone forgets stuff as they age. Even me. The only one with a perfect memory is God. He will never forget me no matter what comes of my perceived memory issues. He will guide me on this journey wherever it takes me. I should remember that. 

I’m going to try the list thing again. I think the simple act of making it helps me remember better…and maybe I’ll look at it this time. Do you find yourself making more lists and writing reminders to yourself? Tell me about it by emailing me here. Maybe I can use some of your anecdotes in my book.  And thanks to all those who have already written and shared their experiences with memory loss, Alzheimer’s and dementia. I appreciate you.

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