The Lost Umbrellas

Martha Varzaly
Guest Author

It was pouring raining when I came home from school, and neither Truman, my pug/cairn, nor I cared to walk.  It was still raining in the morning, but Truman’s urgent bark sounds like “Up!”  I’m not sure where he learned that sound but it surely wakes me up.  This time I knew that going out was essential.

Truman with Martha’s Umbrella

I pulled on yesterday’s dirty clothes and reached for the flowered umbrella that wasn’t in the umbrella stand.  It wasn’t in the hall closet.  It wasn’t in the garage.  Nor was it in the car.  How can one lose a wet umbrella in a condo?  Surely other umbrellas were in the back of the hall closet . . . the big black one that can cover three people, another flowered one that I bought in Target during a thunderstorm, a red one that I’ve had for years, and a sky blue one that collapses. All the while Truman demanded that we go naked in the rain   By the time we’d chased the water down the street gutters, waited for Truman to sniff every bush and peed on most of them.  Eventually we meandered home, and I dried him off before he shook the water on the carpet.  Exchanging my soaking clothes and grabbing a cup of hot coffee helped my mood.

Losing umbrellas is not the only lost thing in my life. My life seems confused like my condo . . . junk mail has spilled from the file cabinet to floor.  One day, I’ll write an article about the unwanted stuff that fills my mail box.  The clock over my desk needs a battery.  I got it off the wall, but haven’t gotten the kitchen stool so I can put it back nor can I find a battery. I must have at least half-dozen pairs of cheap reading glasses, yet there’s never a pair to be found when I’m in a hurry. There are always dishes in the sink; although, I’m sure I cleaned the kitchen last night.

It’s even worse.  I can never remember whom I have told someone something.  It may be just a joke or something important.  My children give me that look that says, “Mom, you’ve told me that already.”  Isolation and silence seems the best since I can’t upset others by repetition. I help shuttle the grandchildren to and from all sorts of activities, and my daughter sends me a weekly calendar.  For her calendar, I am grateful.  Otherwise I never know where and when I am supposed to be.

A year ago when I went to the doctor looking for a solution to my losing memory, I saw my primary care physician and a neurologist.  I took all their tests and nothing showed up – or at least nothing bad showed up.  There was no indication of memory lost, but I couldn’t remember things. Last semester I had trouble remembering my students’ name. Now walking into classroom is frightening.  The doctors will most likely blame my confusion because my husband died this spring.

But this year, I’ve done my homework. I will fight to awaken my brain and find those umbrellas!


About Martha Varzaly: “I teach Composition at Johnson County Community College, am a prose editor for Kansas City Voices, and have recently found a new voice for me – writing with a chuckle about serious things such as cataract surgery, encounter with a skunk, and memory loss. I wrote as stringer for the Lynchburg News in Virginia (and I got paid by the inch) when I was 16; and 50 years later, I’m having a ball. Just call me ‘Grandma Martha.'”

4 thoughts on “The Lost Umbrellas

  1. Maybe you would like to see how a poet deals with the subject of non-functioning memory. Here’s MEMORY SPOTS, a poem from “Poems All Tolled”, my first book:

    Why is it I can’t remember the names
    of all the doctors who treated our son,
    but cannot forget the sight of him
    lying peacefuly, his fight not won?

    Why is it I can’t recall the names
    of your poker buddies who came to play
    at our house frequently, and yet
    I remember their faces to this day.

    Why is it I no longer remember
    exactly what we fought about,
    but cannot forget every word in the
    farewell note you left on my pillow?

    Margaret Grandstaff Bell

  2. I just reread The Lost Umbrellas and decided you could easily have been describing one of my days. It can be scary when a word you are reaching for is just beyond your grasp, and things you were holding in your hand minutes ago have disappeared. If you find a way to fix those memory gaps, please share!

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