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The Week I Lost Thursday


by Eda LeShan

It was a very busy week-Lots of chores to take care of, an article to type, preparations for the visit of my daughter and granddaughter.  I made up my mind I'd have to get up very early in order to get everything done before they arrived.  I went shopping at the supermarket, and I found a plumbing supply company where I could get a new stopper for the bathtub, and I bought myself a short summer bathrobe, and I found three books to give to my granddaughter that I thought she'd like.  I made up a package of things to take to my father's house when we went to see him on Saturday—I ran around all day and accomplished a lot, very efficiently.
     And then I went home to wait for my daughter and granddaughter to come.  I figured with Friday traffic, they might arrive quite late.   When my husband came home for supper he said, "I've been trying to reach you all day, but you were out.  You got me all confused; today isn't Friday, it's Thursday."
     I was so well organized that I had done all the things I was supposed to do on Friday, but I had missed all my Thursday appointments—the dentist, the hairdresser, and delivering a manuscript to my agent.
     I was devastated.  This was something I had never done before in my whole life.  I have always been well-organized; in more than forty-five years I had never missed a professional obligation even though my schedule of speaking engagements was always very complicated.  In my whole life I had never missed an appointment.
     My immediate reaction was, this is the early-warning sign of senility—or worse.  It's all downhill to the cemetery from now on; all the vitamins and minerals my daughter had instructed me to take aren't working—my mind is going.  I was scared to death.  Is there anyone over sixty who hasn't shared at least a moment or two of such anxiety?
     I was at a crossroads—two possible choices—and I think I made the right decision.  The choice I rejected was to go on assuming that old age was upon me and that I had become mentally incompetent.  The choice I decided upon was to see if I could figure out what other alternative reasons there might be for my having lost Thursday.
     It wasn't that hard to figure out.  I was unusually tired that week; I had been trying to do much more than anyone of any age could comfortably handle.  Too many demands were being made on me by other people and I had allowed that to happen.  The serenity and tranquillity I need at least some of the time to feel good, had been set aside too long.  I'd been stuck in the city, with its brick walls and noise and crowds, too long and was starving for a day in the country.   And probably most of all, I was feeling ambivalent about my daughter's visit.   In order to hide my unconscious feelings, I turned Thursday into Friday to prove to myself how eager I was for her arrival.  On the one hand I adore both my daughter and granddaughter, and don't get a chance to see them very often.  On the other hand, feeling so exhausted beforehand, the thought of the usual catastrophic changes that would take place in my living room, with the sleeping bags and suitcases, and the number of towels that would be lying wet all over the bathroom, and my darling granddaughter's energy level from six in the morning to bedtime—I finally faced it: I wasn't one hundred percent thrilled, as I felt I should be.
     What I finally realized, even halfway through this exercise in introspection, is that if I'd been forty and lost a Thursday, I would have known more quickly the roles of fatigue and mixed feelings.  At sixty-five, my first reaction had been terror that I was losing my marbles.  It behooves all of us who can no longer fall into the "spring chicken" category to watch out for such misjudgments.  Far be it from me to suggest that aging doesn't bring with it some physiological changes, but it is also true that many of us jump to the wrong conclusions about ourselves because we are looking at the calendar too often and are not examining our environment, our feelings, the circumstances of our lives, often enough.
     Before we conclude that the mind is failing, we need to have a long, serious, honest talk with ourselves.  Most of the time the issue is not our age but the fact that we are allowing ourselves to be exploited by other people's needs and are not being as loving as we need to be toward ourselves.
     P.S. Once I faced my ambivalent feelings, I had a fine time with my daughter and my gorgeous granddaughter, and gave myself a day's rest in bed when they went home.  And I knew it was Monday.  

From It’s Better to Be Over the Hill Than Under It, by Eda LeShan. Copyright 1997 by Eda LeShan. Excerpted by arrangement with Newmarket Press. $11.95. Available in local bookstores or click here.