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.
Here’s to memoir writing–one clothes pin at a time.
How’s your memory these days?