Memory-Mining via Haute Couture

It seems only appropriate, since I’m traveling with my mother this week on a memoir-mining mission, of sorts, that I share one of my favorite stories about my mom–one that demonstrates what a wicked sense of humor she retains or very poor memory she’s developed.  You decide which.

On her 72nd birthday, my mother shared her newest mnemonic device with me.   And I thought, in all fairness, I should pass along the technique, in case you want to remedy your own memory deficits by adopting my mother’s method.

This all came up last November when I asked my mom to call my partner Sara and me in Haiti during our family’s annual let’s-celebrate-mom’s-birthday-event scheduled for one Sunday afternoon.

When I asked my mother to make the call, she said, “Well, I’m afraid I’ll forget.”

I reassured her that she didn’t have to worry, that I would email my sister and ask her to place the call.

“No,” my mother declared confidently. “I’ll just clip a clothes pin to my lapel.”

“Really,” I replied.

“Of course,” she claimed.  “Someone is bound to ask why I have a clothes pin on my blouse.  And when they do, I’ll remember we were supposed to call you.  It works every time.”

“Every time,” I said, dumbfounded that my mother had used the technique enough to have gathered such data.


“Wow,” I added.

“It works really well—-and everybody has an extra clothes pin hanging around!”

“Sure they do . . . “

. . . but—-for those of you whose laundry habits have surprisingly not carried the clothes pin over into the 21st century or, god forbid, lack the sartorial daring to add clothespins to your accessory repertoire, my mother claims the piece-of-paper-in-the-middle-of-the-living-room-floor technique works almost as well.

So, you see, my using this week away with my mother to mine her memory for family stories may tell us more about her not-so haute couture, than about my father’s mafia affiliation.

Mother knows best?

Here’s to memoir writing–one clothes pin at a time.

How’s your memory these days?

39 thoughts on “Memory-Mining via Haute Couture

  1. Too cute! My memory is beginning to go … and it’s annoying me to no end. I think it might not be so bad if I hadn’t had extremely good recall up until a couple of years ago. Perhaps I should stock up on clothespins. Sigh


  2. I usually stick a post-it to my door and write a note on my calendar. Unfortunately, if I do this sooner than a day before whatever it is that I don’t want to forget to do, I become so used to seeing the reminder notes that they turn invisible.


  3. Oh that is too cute – and really brilliant in its own way. I also like the paper in the middle of the floor idea, but fear you would not be able to see the carpet through the paper if I adapted that one!


  4. My mom used to talk about tying a string around her finger for the same reason (she’d see the string and realize there was something she had to remember). I don’t think she ever actually did it, though.


    • Yes, I’ve heard of the string “technique.” My issue with either approach is that I would forget what specific thing that string/clothes pin was supposed to remind me of. I think I may be terminal. Ha, ha.

      Thanks so much for reading. Hope you’ll come back again soon.


  5. I usually draw a tiny star on the inside of my wrist whenever I have to remember something. It works for me, but now I’m considering investing in some clothes pins and doing market research with your mom’s technique! 🙂


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