I started in my current line of work when I was nineteen years old. At the time I was one of the youngest people in my field. I wasn’t expected to last a year and I was reminded of that daily by my co-workers. People in my line of work usually don’t last very long due to the various occupational hazards, drug use and emotional burnout that still take about ninety percent of us each year. Despite the challenges and pressure, I surpassed a lot of expectations and became a valuable asset to my company. Now, I’m scared as hell that retirement is just around the corner.
My mother had it and her father had it but they say it doesn’t run in families. I first noticed something was wrong when I woke up and couldn’t remember how to turn off the alarm clock or that it even had a switch. I thought, what a strange machine that doesn’t have an off switch. Then it was other things, like forgetting what I was getting at the store or how to get home from there. I dismissed it all, I was in denial and didn’t want to face what I knew was happening.
My wife eventually started hounding me to go to the doctor. She started noticing that I was always forgetting where I put my keys, even though I’ve hung them up on the same hook for over ten years. When I panicked and became a little too angry one evening over “losing” my cell phone she really knew something was wrong. I told her she was just being silly, that I had a lot on my mind and work was just really getting to me. When that started to happen more often I knew I needed something to help me get by, so I started carrying a little notepad with me. That helped a lot but didn’t fool my daughter.
I had to pick her up from soccer practice one evening, or I thought I had to pick her up. When I pulled up to the soccer field, with the help of a nice GPS system I bought, I yelled for her to come along so we could go home. I had to talk quickly, which even then was a chore, to convince her that of course I knew I just dropped her off and drove around the corner. I just missed her and wanted her to be done already. She’s her father’s daughter and didn’t buy it. I found Alzheimer’s information in my briefcase the next day — only fifteen and already smarter than me.
Traveling for work has started to get a little harder too. Sometimes I find myself sitting at the airport or on a long flight and not remembering where I was going or why I was going somewhere. My daughter hasn’t said anything but keeps tabs on me when I travel. She calls every now and again asking leading questions: “So, Dad, how was your flight to New York, how much longer till you need to get your 7:30 connection at gate D7 to London?” She’s a good kid, she shouldn’t have to do this. It makes me feel guilty that she feels she has to take care of me and keep my secret, yet proud that I’ve helped raise such a caring person. Maybe I should just retire and see a doctor, get on some proper medication.
Retirement scares me. I’ve been doing this for over forty years and I enjoy my job. It’s challenging, gives me an opportunity to travel all around the world and the pay is great. I’m one of the leaders in my field, what will I do if I retire?
But I don’t know what I’m going to do right now.
I can’t find my notebook,
my cell phone is missing,
I’m in a strange hotel room with a high powered rifle lying on the bed…
and I’m holding a picture of a man I’m not sure if I’ve killed yet…
M. Jacobo is another hopeful that loves to put words down and hopes people will read them. Originally from California but lives in Nevada now and misses the ocean. Enjoys spending time, when not at the “real” job, with family and writing as much as possible.