Saturday, April 18, 2009
Last night I wanted to find out when I had last been to the dentist, a mundane task, but a compelling one. And it was going to be easy: I would just go into my trusty iCal and scroll backwards. Well I scrolled backwards and after February 14, or rather before February 14, there was nothing. No events at all. I looked everywhere that one can look in a computer which is almost nowhere at all, but the events were gone.
S0 of course I am thinking of my father and his half-century of lost memories.
There is no patron saint of memory loss. Not officially. But there is of course St Anthony for lost items. (Not the Saint Anthony tempted in Dali’s painting, but the other one, the benign one always pictured with a baby, or a piglet. And I’ve no clue why the patronage of lost items.)
Bonne Maman, my beloved Belgian grandmother whose version of Catholicism was personal and idiosyncratic (and possibly idolatrous), was a devotée of St Anthony, largely for his uncanny ability to find lost objects, or cause them to be found. I wish I could manifest a modern skepticism on the subject, but it is hard. One of them – either my grandmother or Saint Anthony - really could find what was lost.
Or they did until Alzheimer’s took over Bonne Maman’s brain and decimated it, and then everything was lost, memory, language, and finally self. I don’t hold Saint Anthony responsible for her illness, though there were times when I was furious, when this terrible disintegration of the brain, this collapsing of synapses and this theft of a lifetime’s stories, seemed the cruelest thing and a negation of saintly intervention.
Meanwhile I bemoan my lost record of dentist appointments, haircuts, movies seen, parties, revelries, and physical therapy. Knee surgery has disappeared, along with trips to Bolivia and Alsace, along with a marriage that is already over, beekeeping classes and Literature Club meetings. I can’t bring myself to pray to Saint Anthony, not today.
So here is a fact that will neither find my missing calendar nor explain Saint Anthony’s patronage, but CSB will like it because he is longing to get pigs on our (still unnamed) farm. The smallest pig in the litter (the runt), or the favorite, is called the Tantony pig, short for Saint Anthony’s pig. Even though spellcheck disapproves, it’s a real word.