This is not my computer desk. My computer desk in my bedroom looks like a bomb went off on it. Which it did, metaphorically, because the hard drive in my computer recently died. I used it one night and it worked fine, and the next morning the darn computer refused to boot up. The screen displayed the beginning of what had formerly been a happy machine going to work, but no more. The computer got about a third of the way through the boot-up and froze, followed by a clicking noise which definitely seemed to me a bad omen. My repeated attempts to boot the machine up were futile.
With creaky knees, I crawled under the desk and disconnected the maze of wires. After a quick phone to the Geek Squad, the computer and I were enroute to BestBuy. The Geek at the counter listened to me, sagely nodding his head. And, just like a physician about to deliver some unwanted medical news, he promised he would check the machine out.
I got the call that very same evening. The Geek regretted to inform me that my hard drive was no longer of this earth. With a heavy heart, I listened to his follow-up question; Did I just want a new hard drive, or a brand new computer? I must admit that visions of more power were alluring, but a new hard drive was a whole heck of a lot cheaper!
The Geeks “got ‘er done” for me, and I’ve been spending the last several days recovering data. Actually, not all of the data, as I’ve been using the occasion to clean out old files. Eight years of data from this machine, plus whatever migrated from older generations than that. It’s been freeing in a good way, the letting go of the old, and making room for the new.
It has struck me that part of this process has been mirrored by my dementia. While I can’t really replace my brains’ hard drive, I must let certain memories go. Memories are a hugely important thing in dementia, because each day some memories go. I’m not sure where they actually go to hang out, but I can tell you they are no longer there. Or perhaps they are there, but I no longer have the ability to access them.
Think of the humble password. When I was young, I had no passwords. Actually very few people back then had passwords. They are pretty much a computer phenomena for those of my generation. I have a book of them, some of which I no longer know what I had them for. It is getting increasingly hard for me to keep them all straight, especially those that I don’t use very often. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to reset them. Before dementia, I rarely had to change them, but now my brain has become a password machine. I sometimes write them down, and then forget why I used them!
I wish there was a password that would unlock my dementia, but if there is, it hasn’t been invented yet. And so, I’m going to play some Microsoft Mahjong on my newly minted hard drive. Not where was it that I left off at?