Help! I've Forgotten and I Can't Recall!

by Jenny Gardiner

Yeah, I know, sort of a lame take on the iconic 1990's television commercial featuring an elderly gal with a medical emergency who urgently needed assistance with her feeble self. Thanks to "Life Call," she had someone who was able to prop her up, and all was well.

So far I'm not in need of Life Call to rescue me from a frail bone-related fall, but I am in dire need of some sort of life call to save me from an increasingly enfeebled brain. They say the mind is the first to go, and my memory--which until recently I'd successfully prodded into action with a regular machine-gunning of reminder alerts on my iCal each day--has taken a day at the beach and decided it doesn't want to return just yet, if ever.

Thus, I have placed practically my entire memory in the evidently disabled hands of my MacBook's iCal, which it seems has aged in dog years itself and is failing in its own wretched memory to remind me of all that I can't help but forget. Two operating systems ago, my iCal reminders worked regularly, even though I overloaded the application with unrealistic demands: most every function of my day popped up to remind me to do it, short of basic hygiene functions such as "remember to brush teeth." So many demands that while it reliably reminded me, it also crashed constantly. So I upgraded to a new operating system and the failures became rampant. My reminders would pop up for one event, but not for the next. But I'd not remember to check my calendar to see what it was forgetting to remember. The next upgrade failed me even more. I'm a victim of the memory of both me and my fail-safe computer, failing all over the place.

Since my calendar can't even remember to remember, I'm holding out hope they soon come out with helper dogs for failing memories.

I felt a little relieved after chatting with my friend Tana the other day on the phone while she was preparing to leave for the gym. As she was talking on speakerphone, I heard water running in the background.

"Don't worry, I'm not going to the bathroom," she said. "I'm just filling up my water bottle."

Well, of course any woman with good girlfriends knows that occasionally we all happen to race into the loo while on the phone—it's a hazard of friendship. So I just laughed and told her it wouldn't have mattered regardless. We talked for a minute more when suddenly Tana stopped.

"Oh, crap. Where's my water bottle?" she asked.

As if defining my dilemma for my own affirmation, she did what I regularly do: forgot the simplest of things in the shortest period of time imaginable. It's what we do best. All day long. And fight it with the meager tools at our disposal to keep us from having to purchase ear horns and walkers and resign ourselves to our dwindling age and capabilities.

The other day I suffered the hat trick of memory shortcomings. First, I lost my reading glasses in the time it took to swap out shirts. A few minutes later, I became vexed because I couldn't find the enormous pile of tax information it had taken me an entire day to find, which I'd then put somewhere I'd know where to find it. Shortly thereafter, I needed to recall the brand of car I'd rented a few days earlier, as I wanted to be sure we didn't consider it while shopping for a new car. I'd made a point of remembering the brand. To no avail.

And that's the thing. I'm always putting things where I know I'll remember them. And rarely do. I walk to a food cabinet while fixing dinner, forgetting in six short steps what I'd gone there to retrieve. I wake at 3 a.m. with brilliant ideas, but don't want to wake completely to write them down, certain I'll recall by dawn. Never do. Yet then I wake up in the middle of the night over mundane things, like forgetting to soak black beans for dinner, only to not be able to sleep, recalling everything I need to remember to do that I haven't done and worry that I won't remember to do it. I leave notes everywhere, only to not know where the notes are. I record reminders on my phone. Only to forget to listen to them later.

Maybe life's pressing needs are actually squeezing my brains dry. Sounds like I could use a good vacation.
A conversation between me and Tana these days goes something like this:

"Did you hear about, oh, what's her name? Long brown hair, lives up that narrow mountain road."
"Yeah, the gal with six kids?"
"Exactly. And that dog that smells like death. Her husband played in a band when he was in college—"
"Oh, what is her name? It begins with a P, doesn't it?"
"It rhymes with my mother's middle name, I think."
"What's your mother's middle name?"
"Nothing rhymes with Amanda. But anyhow, we'll think of her name. But did you hear--they're getting a divorce."
"No! I always knew he was up to no good."
"Who? Her husband?"
"Yeah. What's his name?"
Well, you get the idea. We have all the minutiae committed to memory but the barebones facts have evaporated from our gray matter, by some brain-fog that has settled over our memories, doomed to cloak our thinking and force us into some Sherlock Holmesian effort to recall. Our trail of deduction requires mental bloodhounds, and it seems as if our dogs have got up and went.
"Between the two of us we have a brain," Tana said. And she's right. Which makes me think maybe I need to simply be paired up with someone, 24/7, from here on out. Because clearly at this point two heads must be better than one.


  1. Ah, this happens to me all the time - and I've realized what it is for me anyway - let's say you're making a soup for dinner - but you're not there in the moment making the soup - you're thinking about your taxes or the errands you have to do tomorrow - and then you end up putting the bag of carrots into the freezer rather than the fridge - well it's because you're not present. You're mind is in a million different places and time zones. If I'm doing something I enjoy like cooking - I've begun just staying in that zone - I think it helps. Also crossword puzzles! ;) Cheers!

  2. Fantastically funny Jenny!

    I have to assume there is a bit of poetic license in there and that makes it even more witty. Jojo - and of course Jenny - you are WAYYY too young to have this syndrome!! But thank you both for the good laughs.

    Love and hugs,

  3. Oh and BTW, this only goes to prove we all need personal assistants or WIVES!

  4. You are SO onto something--I could use a wife/personal assistant. And JoJo I think you're right on with that--we're never in the moment--who can be? No time for that LOL (so sad isn't it?!)
    thanks for stopping by!

  5. LOL!

    My husband used to make fun of my habit of calling things and people 'thing'. As in, 'Can you pass me the thing? It's over there by the thing.'

    After awhile, he figured out what all those things were. I'm wondering if I take Jojo's advice, and try to be more in the moment as I'm describing something, whether the correct phrase will come to me.

  6. I love the 'thing" thing. Yeah, you know, that THING!

  7. Hah!! Hilarious, Jenny! *snort* I'm still chuckling. I relate waaay too much to this. ;-P

    Just the other night, we're heading out for dinner. We're almost to the car, the doors beep unlocked and I say, "Wait, I forgot my water."

    Hubby mutters something under his breath because it seems EVERYTIME we leave I forget something and force him to hand over the keys so I can run back inside. He sighs and starts to hand over the keys when I say, "Wait, it's here in my hand."


    My theory is there is just so much the brain can hold at one time. I still remember my mom running around frantically, shouting at us kids to find her sunglasses and her keys. We'd scramble about madly until one of us would notice the glasses on the top of her head and the hand clutching keys waving around.

    *chuckle* GREAT piece. Thanks for the giggle!


  8. yep, i'm of the brain-->sponge theory. and mine is full-up with water, can't absorb another thing! thanks!


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