Necks vs. Brains

A few weeks ago, I read Nora Ephron’s memoir about aging: “I Feel Bad About My Neck.” With her usual wit and masterful use of the English language, Nora wrote honestly about her own aging issues.Nora Ephron

She included essays about the neck and how it quickly turns from smooth, soft skin into something resembling a turkey wattle. Also included were humorous details about how we disguise age with hair dye, moustache bleach and various versions of face lifts and Botox.

I laughed at Nora’s descriptions and agreed with her assumptions that at some point, no one cares how old we are or how well we disguise it.

But I wondered if Nora might have also included some essays about the aging of the brain and how that worry can overwhelm all the physical symptoms of living beyond 50.

Did Nora ever experience the sudden lapse of a long-remembered name when she could picture a childhood friend but could not for the life of her – recall the name?

Did she ever make frequent visits to her file cabinet to look up something she had just looked up five minutes ago?

Did this talented writer and long-time journalist ever forget a word and wonder where her brain catalogued it?

Did she ever fear that words, phrases and sentences might someday become lost within the aging plaque of her brain – thus deleting her writing career?

Maybe writing about brain aging was a little too scary, too painfully honest to include in this book. And maybe Nora remained gratefully alert even to her dying moments, God rest her soul.

But she did indicate a slight worry when she wrote, “Is life too short or is it going to be too long?”

Nora’s book provided a humorous recess between my visits to Mom in assisted living and celebrating the holidays with my Oklahoma family.

But with Alzheimer’s attacking my mother’s brain and dementia pulsing through my father’s genes, the aging I worry about is much scarier than grey hair or wrinkles.

With the dangers of brain atrophy and what that might involve, I will be grateful if the only part of me that ages is my neck.

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” –

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