Service of “Say What?”

February 12th, 2024

Categories: Dates, Death, Memory, Name

I have a friend who seems to remember every year, month and day of every event in her life. Not me. If asked by a doctor—or now an online form— “When did such and such happen?” I have no clue. It happened. It’s behind me. Onwards.

Same with sad dates like the death of my parents and husband. I know the months and my parents made it easy on the years otherwise who remembers?

I didn’t inherit my uncle and mom’s memories. My mother’s brother remembered the punchlines of hundreds if not thousands of jokes. My mother remembered poems she’d memorized in middle school and knew them better than I did when, as she made dinner, I’d practice reciting an 8th grade assignment.

I marvel at the memories of Jeopardy contestants. Some of my friends also have Google-like memories recounting book, movie and play titles, authors and actor’s names. My husband was a living fill in the blank. He remembered the contents of countless history and biography anthologies he’d read sometimes decades before, was abreast of current events, opera, and art–especially before the mid 20th Century–football and golf and knew world geography like the back of his hand.

Speaking of which I opened an envelope on Saturday thinking it would be a Valentine but instead it was a mass card from St. Patrick’s Cathedral dated February 25, which would have been my husband’s 90th birthday. I knew the date but hadn’t focused on this round number and that he’s been gone for five years. My friends remembered.

Because of my many lifelong failings in this regard I was appalled that President Biden was called out in the special counsel report for not remembering the years he was Vice President or the date of his son’s death. Ask “What year did you move from North Dakota to Turkey?” or “What year did you buy the house?” and in a tense situation with 1,000 more important things going on [as the President has] many might freeze at the drilling–even, I suspect, the most vehement finger-waggers. And by the way: What relevancy do those dates have regarding boxes of White House documents found in a garage?

Does anyone recall how President Reagan answered almost every policy question? He tossed the ball to someone on his staff. I empathized with Reagan, especially coming after Jimmy Carter who had a most remarkable grasp of all issues foreign and domestic.

Do I exclaim “Aha!” when a young client forgets to do something, or if I need to remind a much younger friend to get back to me about a pending date? Nope. Do you?

Are you one of the lucky ones who is a trivia star?

10 Responses to “Service of “Say What?””

  1. EAM Said:

    EAM on Facebook: I have a proclivity to retain useless trivia and strange information.

  2. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: EAM, me too.

    I think I’m pretty good at trivia and still have an intact memory until I watch Jeopardy. Those players mostly are amazing!

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I definitely have a selective memory. Always have had. Sometimes it takes me longer than others to forget icky things that have happened. Eventually tucking away some nasty things serves me well.

  4. Hank Goldman Said:

    I sympathize with you… My parents were sharp and clear up until the end. I don’t think I will be.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I will no doubt get worse but I’ve never been a person to remember dates or names. I more than most am so grateful to Google!

    You, Hank, are so good at Wordle! I suspect you’ll be in fine fettle for the duration.

  6. Phyllis Stier Said:

    Phyllis on Facebook:Had to find it ironic that all those reporters questioning Biden had to take notes so they wouldn’t forget the news conference Q&As etc., keep their reporting accurate. Try remembering on your own….🤔🙄

  7. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: the report on BIDEN was DELIBERATE to SABOTAGE him nuff said

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Good point. Amen.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Trouble is, it works. Is the lesson here that to win an election in this country these days you must hit below the belt?

  10. Lucrezia Said:

    Memories differ. Mine is selective which now makes me recall highly embarrassing moments when it failed to kick in on the obvious. It’s a common trait, but can become an inconvenience, as when accusing one’s classmates/friends of “stealing” one’s pencil only to find it tucked behind one’s ear! It doesn’t take being anywhere near 70 to go completely blank.

    Sudden lapses are not necessarily a sign of dementia, and it would be nice if these self-appointed psychiatrists, with no knowledge of the field would shut up. Since it’s realistic to assume those motor-mouths will keep humming, their assessment of a presumed presidential candidate who confuses an opponent with Nancy Pelosi would be welcome.

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