When I was talking to my mother the other day about poetry, one of her great loves, along with Shakespeare and other eminent authors, I happened to speak a quote - "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud." - a famous poem called "The Daffodil." by William Wordsworth that most of us read in school. My Mother, 92 years old remember, then proceeded to quote the whole 4 verses word for word. And I mean word for word, I had the book in front of me and she recited it word for word, not missing one word! Four verses.
I then asked her what she'd had for lunch - no more than one or two hours ago, she smiled at me and asked my father what she had had for lunch. He rolled off the meal along with all of the extras.
I could have asked her 5 minutes after she had eaten it and she would not have been able to tell me. But mention a line from Shakespeare's Tempest, or Hamlet and she would continue it without hesitating for as long as I wanted!
Go figure. The miracle and tragedy of the human mind.
My mother has forgotten more than most people ever learned. For most of her life, until a horrendous automobile accident changed her and everyones life aound her, she knew the answer to almost anything I or anyone else would ask her. I almost never knew her to not know the answer. She knew more than all of my friends and family put together.
Now she can still remember things from her schooldays with incredible accuracy, but she can't remember what happened 5 minutes ago.
A tragedy of the first order, whatever that is. And a loss to us and the world.