From Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause

A Time to Remember

Our memories are card indexes consulted and then returned in disorder by authorities whom we do not control.

Cyril Connolly

“Do you sell sand?” I asked the cashier at the home store.

“What kind are you looking for?” she asked.

“The kind you put in a sand . . . oh, jeez, what’s it called . . . the square plaything?” For the fourteenth time that day I couldn’t think of the word I needed.

“Sandbox?” she asked, looking at me sympathetically.

Good Lord, I thought. I just used the first half of the word and still couldn’t think of it. She obviously had children and was over forty, or the sympathy look would have been more of a lady-are-you-okay? look. Believe me, I know the difference. I’ve gotten them both enough times lately.

I honestly don’t know what’s going on here. I mean, sure, I’ve done all the reading about pre-menopausal brain fog and the memory issues associated with aging, but it’s all made to sound so benign, amusing even. Well, let me say this to the powers that be, whoever you are: I am not amused. My husband might be, but I am not.

I used to think it was funny, I’ll admit. I’d joke about how some people forget their grocery lists, while I forget to go to the store. But we’re beyond that sophomoric humor, my friends. I am now writing notes in the bathroom to remind me to look at a note in the bedroom which reminds me to add something to my grocery list in the kitchen. It’s like one of those strings people use to follow an unfamiliar path, or the ropes that are used in mountain climbing so that people can find the trail back down. My rope, sadly, is used to retain a thought.

Need more? I came out of the mall recently after having had lunch—lunch, not an all-day shopping spree—and I couldn’t remember where I parked the car. And it wasn’t the cute, “Oh, silly me, I’m in the next row over,” it was, “Oh my God, someone stole my car! Wait—what was in my car? Garbage? Who’d want to steal my garbage?” As I stood there mulling this over, a kindly young man approached and timidly asked, “Um, can I help you find your car?”

He spoke to me as if I were ninety. And when I’m ninety, maybe I will graciously accept the offer. But I’m not ninety, I’m forty-four. “No, you may not,” I snapped. “I’m perfectly capable of finding my own car.” And I did . . . thirty minutes later.

At least that was a more or less private humiliation. The public ones are not as easy to sweep under the rug, assuming I’d even remember to get out the broom. These include the requisite forgotten appointments, birthdays, and anniversaries. They also include the time I invited people to play golf and then forgot to show up.

In that same vein, I invited my in-laws over for dinner on my golfing league night. It’s been on Monday nights for three months, and yet I called and said, “Want to come over for a cookout on Monday night?” I told my husband later that day, and he gently suggested that it’s probably bad form to invite your in-laws to dinner when you won’t actually be home.

My kids think it’s a riot, this memory issue, and have figured out how to turn it to their advantage.

“Mom, don’t you remember last time telling me I could have this toy the next time we came here?”

“Mom, I asked you if I could have a sleepover with fifteen friends and you said yes. You just don’t remember.”

“Don’t you remember that you said we could go to Disney World this summer?”

So I’m taking control. I bought some super-powered “scientifically proven” herbal supplements that are supposed to go directly to the part of the brain that’s misfiring and improve, specifically, short-term memory. There are studies that show how this works. It’s all very technical and medicinal-sounding. Unfortunately I have no idea if they work for me or not . . . I can’t remember to take them.

Maggie Lamond Simone

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