Double Jeopardy

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It was three o’clock in the morning. I cannot say that it ranks as an issue that would weigh heavily on a person’s mind. Actually, when I had gone to bed four hours earlier, it wasn’t even a consideration in the thought processes of my conscious awareness. Yet when I awakened, it was the first thing that came to mind. I found the thought bothersome. Actually, I found it very troublesome. But then again, “I sometimes have a tendency to overreact” or so says the General.

 

To make a long story short, I was facing an ethical dilemma. It was a matter having to do with integrity. How long has it been since you’ve pondered an ethical dilemma at three o’clock in the morning? Ethical dilemmas at that time of night (oops, I mean morning) have a way of blocking one’s ability to sleep or sometimes even to think clearly.

 

I can’t say that I tossed and turned for the next hour. Truthfully, I did not. I didn’t toss and turn because I knew what I had to do. I had to do the right thing. Consequently I opted to get up and make a really early start on my day. The downside was that doing the right thing would add an extra fifty-one miles on my round trip commute to Houston and back yesterday. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, “That’s a killer”.

 

There were two issues that I couldn’t ignore. The first is: “A man is only as good as his word.” Last week the receptionist in our building asked me if I was going to Houston this week.   I told her I was scheduled to be there on Wednesday. Consequently, her next question was: “Would you mind taking a computer with you? It belongs in one of the family cottages.”

 

She had even reminded me on Tuesday morning. As it turned out, the day was packed with mostly unplanned issues that needed resolution. When I left the office Tuesday at the end of what proved to be a very long work day, the farthest thing from my mind was the computer I had not yet put in my car.

 

The computer I inadvertently left behind was the cause of my consternation yesterday morning. I had forgotten to pack it in my car and now I was faced with the choice of either driving back to my office to retrieve it or “taking the fifth” when asked why I didn’t get it.

 

You’re probably wondering about the “taking the fifth” statement. It refers to the right to remain silent and avoid self-incrimination. I mean, after all who at my age would ever openly acknowledge that I forgot anything? Someone half my age could use that excuse and no one would give it a second thought. I mean, after all, people forget things all of the time.

 

When I was living in Dallas, a young mother who worked at a restaurant that I often frequented failed to remember her infant son was still in his car seat when she arrived at work. Sadly, it was a very hot summer day. That brings to mind a lot of questions. How does a parent forget to drop their child off at daycare? Sadly when she returned to her vehicle at the end of the day, she discovered a tragedy from which she will never be able to distance herself.  Even to this day, almost two decades later, when I drive past the shopping center where that restaurant is located in Dallas, I always think of that tragic summer day.

 

The point I’m attempting to make is that forgetfulness is an issue that people of all ages experience. It is not relegated exclusively to the aged. The agency where I work is very sensitive to avoid any action or comments regarding an employee that could be considered discriminatory.

 

The three o’clock early morning dilemma I faced yesterday was one of double jeopardy. You’ll say that I’m over-thinking this, but my thought processes are sound. Did I really write than down? Am I suggesting that I am of sound mind? People who know me better would say it’s questionable. From my perspective, it was both an integrity issue (i.e.: Did I do what I said I’d do) and it was a competency or cognitive memory issue. (Have I reached the age where I can’t be trusted to remember important things)?

 

Maybe because of my age, I am a little too sensitive when it comes to forgetfulness. My mother had Alzheimer’s and prior to her death lost her cognitive ability to remember. She didn’t remember or seemly recognize anyone. Because of her memory loss, she forgot how to walk; forfeiting her mobility. She lost the memory of how to feed herself; forfeiting meeting even her most basic needs. She was mostly in a far away place known only to herself the vast majority of the time. But there were exceptions. On occasion, she sang hymns to herself. That may not seem unusual at face value, but my mother never sang out loud in earlier years. Actually, that is not totally true. Sometimes when she was with small children she would sing nursery rhymes to them. Other than that, we never heard her sing.

 

So how did I solve my dilemma? I opted to do the right thing. I drove back to the office before I headed to Houston. Consequently, I delivered the computer as I had promised. Secondly, it was so early when I arrived at the office yesterday morning that no one will ever know that I forgot the computer the evening before.

 

Speaking of the gift of memory, I recently re-visited the lyrics to Carrie Underwood’s song entitled “Don’t Forget To Remember Me”. For parents whose son or daughter just left for college, you may find the lyrics close to home. The lyrics read:

 

“Eighteen years had come and gone

For mama they flew by

But for me they drug on and on

We were loading up that Chevy

Both tryin’ not to cry

Mama kept on talking

Putting off goodbye

Then she took my hand and said

“Baby, don’t forget

 

Before you hit the highway

You better stop for gas

There’s a fifty in the ashtray

In case you run short on cash

Here’s a map, and here’s a Bible

If you ever lose your way

Just one more thing before you leave

Don’t forget to remember me.”

 

This downtown apartment sure makes me miss home

And those bills there on the counter

Keep telling me I’m on my own

And just like every Sunday I called mama up last night

And even when it’s not, I tell her everything’s all right

Before we hung up I said

“Hey mama, don’t forget

 

To tell my baby sister

I’ll see her in the fall

And tell Me-maw that I miss her

Yeah, I should give her a call

And make sure you tell daddy

That I’m still his little girl

Yeah, I still feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be

But don’t forget to remember me.”

 

All My Best!

Don

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