Life in our home is never boring, regular or predictable.
He was practicing in his “trombone room” (prior to his brain injury he was a professional musician). I was sitting upstairs in the family room reading. For a while I didn’t hear any practicing. Then I heard Ben slowly coming up the stairs. He had a sheepish look on his face.
“I planned ahead for this one,” he said. “Sometime in January. But then I must have forgotten about it. I found this when I was looking for some music in my room tonight…” And from behind his back, he pulled out a beautifully wrapped Valentine’s present.
Part of the problem with having short-term memory loss is that Ben can’t always remember what he has done. Despite his faulty memory, Ben has outstanding coping skills. He uses his notebook and google calendar religiously. But it’s not uncommon for things to fall through the cracks in his record keeping. And for some reason, this is particularly an issue with gifts.
One year at Christmas, Ben discovered he had bought me three packages of chocolate-covered espresso beans…when the fourth one arrived via mail, he was no longer amused. One year he was convinced he bought me earrings for Christmas (we never found them). And he bought me my favorite musical on DVD for two birthdays in a row.
I respect my husband. I respect that he keeps trying. I respect that he responds with humor far more than he responds with anger or frustration. Several years ago, I loudly instituted a policy in our family that “children are in charge of gifts.” If Ben buys me a present, he is supposed to tell one or more of the children and make sure that they know where the gift is hidden. Apparently Ben forgot this coping mechanism this year.
I am thankful (and actually a bit surprised) that Ben even thought to buy me a Valentine’s day present. Technically, he bought me two sets of gifts…the card and chocolate I received on February 14th, and the lovely red mug I opened tonight. I was surprised when I found that Ben had bought me a mug. “You remembered,” I said with joy. “I told you how sad I was when my red mug broke.” “You did?” Ben had no memory of the conversation that prompted him to buy a present he didn’t remember buying. We were both glad that Ben found his first Valentine’s day gift to me, only six days after Valentine’s day.
Now if only he could find those Christmas earrings from 2010….