My Marbles

Most people who lose their marbles don’t expect to.

Most people who lose their marbles would, if asked, assure you that they would be the last people to lose their marbles.

Many people who lose their marbles used to be fiercely smart.

This is why I became so terrified when, the other day, I lost track of time. I know that people lose track of time all the … well, time.

But I was sitting at my lap desk thinking, I’m hungry, I should have some lunch, when I glanced up at the clock and it was 5 p.m.

Now, granted, I had been very busy – revising a book proposal, working out some travel scheduling for a family member, checking on a relative in the hospital, buying some clothing I needed. I literally, however, thought there had been a power failure in the house that I somehow was unaware of.

Immediately, I went online and started competing in the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions … but knowing the difference between Jane Eyre and Jane Austen is not the same as thinking it might be 2 p.m. when it’s 5 p.m.

The first time I thought I was losing my marbles was when I complimented my brother on a ship model that he had sitting on top of a big wardrobe in his bedroom. “That is beautiful,” I said. “Where did you get it?”

He gave me a look I never want to see on another face again, as he said, “You got it for me.”

I knew for certain I had never seen that model in my life – although I did realize that it was a model of the kind of three-masted schooner on which our grandfather would have sailed as a young man. In Newfoundland.

So I asked other people, were you ever surprised when you looked up and realized that four hours had gone by when you thought it was only lunch-time?

And everyone I asked said, “Nope.”

I don’t want to lose my marbles.

I have a killer memory for everything I’ve ever heard said. (You can’t say to me, “I never said that!” because I know you did) and most of what I’ve seen, with the exception of that boat model.

I know perfectly well that Jane Austen lived with her minster father, her two sisters and her brother in Haworth in the north of England … NO! I’m making that up … I’m kidding. That was Charlotte Bronte, who wrote Jane Eyre.

I want to go on playing Jeopardy with my nephews (only my nephew Carter will play with me, because no one else dares …) I want my children to be able to say of me, “Mom was sharp until the day she died …” (although my son Marty tells me that, actually, he would not say this right now …). But Marty thinks that Jane Austen is a fashion model, so there.

People think that when you lose your marbles, it’s sort of your fault … and maybe sometimes, it is … if you drank too much booze for a long time or if you spent most of your life sitting in a chair (the way you do when you’re a writer).

As Vice President Dan Quayle once said, “What a waste it is to lose one’s mind. Or, not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.”



  1. Cindy Foss on February 9, 2024 at 2:39 pm

    Oh, Jackie! Never, ever stop being you. I swear that I can hear you laughing.

  2. Jacquelyn mitchard on February 9, 2024 at 3:36 pm

    And you will notice … I spelled “granted” as “grated,” like parmesan cheese.

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