Remembering what to say is a full-time occupation


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By Lori Clinch

Having a bad memory is awful enough, but when I’m around my husband and our four sons, it’s the worst!

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They are all blessed with stellar memories. They know where they have been, where they are going and why they ran into the kitchen. Not to mention, they know who they told what, when, and not only remember the response, but the location of the conversation.

Therefore, when I repeat myself (and apparently I do this a lot), my husband and my sons look at each other, roll their eyes and say, “We had this same conversation yesterday.”

They also like to say, “You already told me that,” “I answered that question last night” and then follow up their comments with a condescending, “She’s losing it!”

Sadly enough for me, I am at the age where I have to start each and every conversation with, “Stop me if I’ve told you this already.”

I would worry about me more if I weren’t blessed with gal pals who are the same age and experiencing the same thing.

Last week, three of us sat down to have a lovely visit about many things.  When the conversation led to the topic of our bad memories, my friend Ethyl said she could totally relate. She then explained how she went to the garage, no less than three times, to get the same thing and forgot what it was each and every time.

“Been there, done that!” our friend Terrie chimed in.

“I would walk out of the house,” Ethyl said, “and stand in the garage for a moment wondering why I came. Then I would go back inside, do a few things and then remember what it was, only to forget again the second I stepped out of the house.

“I finally grabbed some chicken out of the freezer,” Ethyl said, “and brought it into the kitchen, held it up to the empty room and asked ‘Was this it?’ ”

As Ethyl was telling her story, I thought of something really important that I wanted to say, but did not want to be rude. “I have to remember, I have to remember,” I repeated in my head. When Ethyl’s tale of woe turned to gray hairs and their multiplication, I pondered good manners.

Instead of listening to my dear friend, I wondered if I could simply interrupt the conversation and say, “I’m sorry, but I have something more important to say.” Would that be a bad thing? Would Ethyl understand? What would Ms. Manners say?

Sadly, while I was pondering my dilemma, I forgot what my important topic was.

Suddenly the room went quiet, we all looked at each other with blank looks and Ethyl asked, “What was I saying?”

“I can’t remember,” I responded.

“You were talking about chicken,” Terrie offered.

“What was I doing with chicken?” Ethyl inquired.

“Were you giving us a recipe?” I asked.

“I don’t have a good recipe for chicken, do I?”

Terrie then suggested, “Perhaps you were going to the garage for chicken when you suddenly realized you have gray hair!”

“What does chicken have to do with gray hair?” I said.

“I don’t know,” Terrie replied. “It was Ethyl’s story.”

“Now I remember!” Ethyl exclaimed. “I was talking about how Vera makes great chicken and then I was commenting on the fact that she doesn’t have as much as a strand of gray hair.” As she went back into her story, I suddenly remembered my all-too-important topic.

I then thought to myself that Ethyl was an understanding friend and therefore would forgive me for my interruption. I blurted out, “I’m so sorry to interrupt you, but I have something really important to tell you and I’m afraid I’ll forget if I don’t say it right this minute.”

All eyes were upon me when I realized, with great dismay, that during my sincere apology, I had once again forgotten what I wanted to say.

“Was it a recipe for chicken?” Terrie asked.

“Perhaps it had something to do with your garage,” Ethyl suggested.

If I truly am losing my mind, at least I can find some measure of comfort knowing I am in good company.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to

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