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I've finally lost it

Rick Ryckeley's picture

Ask The Wife, she will tell you. I haven’t lost my memory. One must actually have one first in order to lose it.

Funny, I can remember the details of things that happened over 45 years ago as clear as if they happened just last week. The first time I was chased, caught, and beaten by Down the Street Bully Brad is pounded painfully into my memory. That and I still carry the scar on my chin.

How could I forget the many trips my brothers and I took inside the giant tractor tire as it bounced and rolled down the hill in our backyard – before crashing to a watery stop in the swamp? Or endless summers filled with riding trees, double flip plunges into the blue ice box we called the bend in Cripple Creek, and the great Flaming Marshmallow War?

I look across the street as the neighbor takes a delivery of a new refrigerator. Instantly I’m transported back in time to another such delivery.

A similar cardboard box us four boys used as a steamroller all over the vacant lot across the street from Neighbor Thomas’s house.

Thick briars, giant ant hills, and even small trees were no match for the unstoppable, indestructible steamroller. The two weeks of steamrolling fun would’ve lasted all summer – if someone hadn’t left the unstoppable, indestructible steamroller out in the rain.

Just last week the simple task of taking the trash out after dinner reminded me of a war fought long ago. Out past the dumpster, high up in an old dead pine tree, a red-headed woodpecker wailing away – a rare sight indeed. The last time I saw one was back when we lived at 110 Flamingo Street.

The red-headed menace, as Dad named him, had taken up residence on our roof and pounded away each night on wood siding and gutters. Dad tried a giant blowup owl to scare it off. It didn’t work. One peck and the owl deflated.

Next, he used one of our slingshots. It didn’t work either. Dad was a good dad, but wasn’t a very good shot.

Human hair, garlic, and a fake squirrel all failed. What finally worked? Seems old Woodie was just trying to attract a mate and finally did.

Yep, if it occurred 45 years ago at 110 Flamingo Street, Mt. Olive Elementary, or Briarwood High, home of the Mighty Buccaneers, then I sure can remember it.
If it happened yesterday or late week – now that’s what I have trouble with.

Need a poster child for forgetting to do stuff? Well, that’s me. I’d tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to put up the clean dishes, lost my wallet, or missed a doctor’s appointment, but I don’t remember.

Need someone to drive by the grocery store five times and still forget to stop and pick up the one thing he went out for? That’ll be me.

And what is the one item, other than my memory, that I’ve lost the most?

Car keys are at the top of the list. The Wife told me to put them in the same place so I’ll always know where they are.

That only works if you can remember where the place is – which of course, I don’t.

Seems forgetting things is getting easier and remembering things is getting harder.

There’s a good thing about being forgetful. I forget where I put my tools all the time. That means I have to go buy new ones to replace the ones I can no longer find.
Soon I have four of everything, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, I usually can’t find one of them, which is a bad thing. Seems I spend so much time looking for tools that by the time I finally find them, I’ve forgotten what I needed them for.

Forgetting stuff used to bother me, but not anymore. I don’t remember exactly why it doesn’t bother me; I just know that it doesn’t.

I guess I could ask The Wife – if only I could remember where she went. I’m sure she told me – at least I think she did.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for over 26 years and a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His book is available at]

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