My mother called me early this morning.
I knew she was agitated because she said my name three times in a row.
After pleading with her to calm down, I asked her what was wrong.
She replied, “Do you know that once a person reaches the age of thirty five, they start losing 100,000 brain cells a day? Given I’m a couple of years past seventy, I must be losing 200,000!”
“Mom, you’re not losing that many brain cells. You read all the time, chat with the neighbors, and do Sudoku.”
“Something tells me that’s not enough. And you should be worried too. You’re way past thirty five and that places you in the 100, 000 brain cell loss group!”
“I attempt to do crossword puzzles, commit to learning new vocabulary words, and talk with the plants. Trust me, I give my brain cells a daily work out.”
“Nonsense. Two of your aunts suffer from dementia and I’ve seen you unravel when something goes wrong. Start buying puzzles; the ones that have 1000 pieces.”
It took me twenty more minutes to reassure my mother that no, it was not time to consult a neurologist (unless he looks like Mc Dreamy, then I’m all for it).
Nevertheless, today I put into effect the “keep my brain healthy” plan.
What did this entail?
For starters, I forced myself to use my left hand to do everything, even though I’m right-handed.
What does it matter that I’m sporting toothpaste dribble on the front of my shirt and that the sleeve of my sweater caught fire?
The important thing is I brushed and lit the gas stove like a natural born lefty.
I also finished a crossword puzzle.
What does it matter that I squeezed more than one letter into those ridiculous tiny boxes and made up words as I went along?
What really counts is that I can finally say I finished the damn thing.
I also counted backwards from 1,000 while I walked Roxy.
Does it really matter that I jumped from 800 to 400 and finished the remaining numbers counting ten by ten?
Of course not.
A completed task, well done or not, is still a task completed.
I also randomly opened the dictionary to learn new words.
Thanks to this exercise, I now know the meaning of cockalorum, gazump, vomitory, ranivorous, and gongoozle.
Never you mind that I’m still working on how to weave them into a conversation.
Without a doubt, these efforts are evidence of the lengths I’ll go to preserve my brain cells; which is ironic, given I don’t do much to preserve the rest of my body.
The way I see it, I can live with an ass that will give that Kardashian woman a run for her money, but to live without brain cells?
No can do.
This brings to mind something I read the other day.
It was a Huffington Post article by Lisa Bloom claiming that, “Twenty-three percent of American women would rather lose their ability to read than their figures.”
And that, my friends, is truly tragic.
I can’t imagine a life where I couldn’t empower myself through learning; where I wouldn’t be able to understand the printed word; or one where my cerebral cortex would no longer be able to make folds.
I go into spasmodic shudders at the thought.
This evening, I called my mother to report my progress.
“Mom, I’m wearing a toothpaste dribbled shirt with a sweater that has a singed off sleeve.”
She said, “That’s nothing. My night robe is full of spaghetti stains and I applied permanent hair dye to half my forehead.”
“No worries, mom. Think of it this way, we managed to save 100,000 brain cells today.”
“What’s our plan for tomorrow, Bella?”
“How about coming up with ways to remove the dye from your forehead?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Something tells me that thinking of ways to save our brain cells will be an exercise in itself.