Today, on my long Sunday morning walk down to 7th & Campus to snag a copy of the L.A. Times, I meandered through the lovely old homes on the Upland side of Highland Court. Watering his lawn (at 6:30a.m.) was an elderly gentleman with his elderly gentleman dog, a golden retriever that reminded me of TJ Murray. I asked the man if I could "meet" his dog, something I often do when I see folks out with friendly canines.
The man looked confused for a moment, then nodded yes. He continued running water from the hose on his parkway, but made a few remarks about the dog enjoying "new company." I started to walk on when the man made a comment about the heat we've been having, and I stopped again to respond in kind. At that moment he looked up from watering and the same look of confusion passed over this face. Again I began to walk on, and again he attempted to continue the conversation.
"So how have you been?" he asked, and with this question his tone and demeanor changed, became familiar, as if he knew me.
"Oh... fine," I replied, somewhat confused myself by this time.
"How are your kids?" he asked.
"They're great," I answered.
"And the grandkids?" he asked. "How many are there now?"
At this point, I realized he had mistaken me for someone else. He clearly had not when I had first begun to walk past on the sidewalk, but for some reason, there came a moment in which his mind slid slightly sideways, and he recognized me--albeit incorrectly--as someone he had known at one time.
For a brief moment, no more than a couple of seconds, I contemplated full disclosure, correcting him in his error. And then I thought of my mom... and how, just a few times in the last year or so of her life, she failed to recognize people she knew well or mistook them for others. The truth revealed always humiliated her. It's bad enough to lose memory; it's another thing entirely when people catch you at it and point it out.
"There are seven now," I told him, which is true.
"Seven!" he exclaimed. "That's wonderful! And are they all well?"
"They are well indeed," I told him, and then I took my leave, telling him that it was great to see him, and that I would talk with him longer the next time I was out for a walk, but that I wanted to get back home before it got too hot.
"Great to see you!" he called as he went back to watering.
I share this with you now, my friends and family members, as a future request. I hope that karma is kind... and that when I reach the age at which all the many beloved faces of my lifetime begin to blend into one another, those who know me--or those who are meeting me perhaps for the first time--will be kind. I don't ask much. Just... stop and chat with me for a while... whoever you are.