The Gift, by Guest Writer Cary Stillwell

Introduction: Lynn Weiss

One of the best parts of being “out there” as someone with an A.D.D. style of brain construction is that I get the opportunity to meet absolutely wonderful people like our guest writer today, Cary Stillwell.

Both of us being ADHD, means we can digress from any topic on hand with aplomb. How nice that is. We flow with the wind and think like two whirlpools. Similar to nature, we are not constained by “have tos” and “this is the ways.” No wonder we met in a lakeside grassland in North Texas: she walking her dog and I seeking a piece of driftwood to fashion into a Power Stick. (Yes, sometimes I need reminders.)

Creativity is the name of our game, so much so that film writer Cary Stillwell and book writer and speaker, Lynn Weiss took about 30 seconds to get acquainted and haven’t stopped getting further acquainted since then. When Cary shared her story, The Gift with me, I immediately asked her if she would let me post it on my blog site. In about the same amount of “almost no time,” she said, “yes.”

So, with that introduction, here is Cary’s gift.

The Gift

Mom called.  She was worried about her memory and wanted my opinion.  She said she’d just left the doctor’s office and realized she hadn’t asked any of the questions she wanted to ask.  She’d even made herself a note and put it in her purse to remind her of her questions.  One of the questions on her list was what are the signs of dementia?

I didn’t respond right away.  I actually listened to her very carefully.  She told me about her lovely doctor and the appointment with her.  Mom gave me a full health report, even corrected herself when she used her own words rather then quoting her doctor exactly.

I responded by asking Mom if she remembered that I had ADD?  She laughed.  Of course she did.  It was her short-term memory that she was worried about.

“Good,” I said.  “Then I’ll tell you about my day.

“I got pulled over by the cops for no apparent reason.  He came to my window and asked if I knew the reason.  I had no earthly idea what the reason could be.  He proceeded with questioning about whose vehicle I was driving.  He thought it was stolen because it had no tags.

“That, Mom, was the trigger that reminded me that I had a list in my purse.  I had made my list the week prior when I left the California Department of Motor Vehicles.  On my list was a reminder to go back a second time to the CA DMV to register my TX vehicle.  The first time I went, I forgot the Texas registration that I needed as proof of ownership.  It wasn’t in my glove box.  I discovered it wasn’t there when the DMV chic sent me back to the truck to look for it.  I told her that I must have forgotten to put the registration in my glove box when it came in the mail a few months ago.  I vaguely remember it coming in the mail, but who in the hell remembers where it is now?”

Mom laughs that distressed laugh mothers have when they’re sorry and, yet, don’t know how to make it better.  Trying to make light of the matter, she says she should have named me Backtracker.

(I suddenly begin to think to myself that Backtracker might have been a good idea for a name.  Cary somewhat implies carry, as in carry forward: a challenging motion for this girl named Cary.  Mom is right.  My life seems to be in a constant state of repeating things.  Perhaps if she’d named me Backtracker, it would have worked to destine me for its opposite, to carry forward.  That would have been nice.  But that’s neither here nor there, or forward or backward.)

Therefore, I reinter the conversation and carry forward with my story just as Mom finished whatever else she was saying amidst her worried laugh.

“I’m not finished, Mom. There’s more to the story.  Withhold your labels until you hear the rest.

“The cop would NOT have pulled me over had I remembered that the DMV gave me a temporary tag to tape to my windshield while I searched for the Texas registration that I had surely misplaced.

“As it turns out, and as the cop pointed out, in Texas the registration doesn’t go in the glove box.  It’s also a sticker for the window.  I don’t remember, but I guess I actually stuck the sticker in the window when I got it in the mail because it’s there: Precisely aligned vertically and exactly corner-to-corner above the inspection certificate in the bottom left-hand corner.”

Grasping for a way to console me, Mom says, “Vehicle registration and other stuff like that should be a male’s responsibility.”

She was making excuses because her motherly concern was becoming too heavy for her.  I knew she needed an answer.  So I helped her.

“Maybe it should be.  Mom,” I said. “But I have a gift.

“The gift is my ability to tell you the color of fingernail polish the chic at the DMV who gave me the temporary tag was wearing.  To smell her obnoxious perfume as if it was amply applied to my upper lip.  To remember which buttons she buttoned and the snag on her sweater vest that she surely made with those fingernails.  To be entertained by the way she used the eraser on her #2 pencil to leaf through and sort my mess of paperwork.  To forgive her tired attitude because she must have been in a rush that morning since she’d slightly missed the left eyebrow with the liner pencil and made two arcs.  To calm myself by humming the musac that was barely audible for the hundreds of numbers being blared over a loudspeaker corralling people to very long lines.  To notice the rug in the double door was frayed on the left, so even though the line was on the right, there was likely more foot traffic left, or else the janitor had turned the rug backwards just to trick me.

“You see, Mom,” I said.  “I would have been fine if only the cop had asked the right questions.  Damn cop.”

Mom laughed sincerely.  Not that her distressed laugh wasn’t out of sincerity, but she was humored into laughter this time.  “Now that’s a great story.” She said.  “Maybe you should write a column called Backtracking from the ADD Heart.  Kind of like Life is a Bowl of Cherries by Erma Bombeck.  Erma made my horrible ability to cook as a female a laughing matter rather then a shame.”

With Mom in better spirits, I said, “Now when you start exhausting yourself with forgetfulness as much I do with ADD, then I’ll listen to you talk about dementia.  Until then, I don’t want to think about what my memory might be like in twenty years.”


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8 Responses to The Gift, by Guest Writer Cary Stillwell

  1. Megan Whalen says:


    you are the best, however you are…. a great friend and wonderful creative writer.

    thanks for sharing.


  2. Lynn Weiss says:

    I’m just now getting acquainted with Cary, gut what you say shines from her immediately. I’m looking forward to another wonderfully talented A.D.D. woman using those talents for the good of all of us.
    Lynn Weiss

  3. Suzanne Teal says:

    Great story, Cary! Thanks for sharing it. I can see it happening in my head….:-)

  4. Marian Monta says:

    a sweet heartwarming story.

  5. Lisa says:

    Cary & I have been friends for many years & I am thankful for the creativity she has brought to my life! Without her ability to see things that aren’t there my spaces would be just that~ spaces. I miss seeing her now that she has left Tx but every time my flowers bloom a perfect bloom I am reminded of a beautiful friendship!

  6. Lynn Weiss says:

    Lisa, You found one of the secrets of ADD: the spaces in which we live, love, dance, create and experience and structure our Universe. What a wonderful place to live . . . and to think this has been said to make us “disordered.” Thanks for sharing your first hand experience with Cary that so eloquently portrays the diversity of ADD Analogue processing. We are blessed with our filled spaces. But, the more we are blessed when we have friends like you who together create a “Whole”—the whole continuum of experience, the yin and the yang, the linear and the analogue. Thank you for your gift.

  7. adriana chapa says:

    Thanks for sharing this story. It made me smile and laugh, and it definitely lifted my spirit. You are gifted — in many ways! If only the cop had asked the right question . . . now there’s a lesson for all of us. Keep writing!

  8. Lynn Weiss says:

    Now there’s another short, short story: “If only the “xxxx” (cop, teacher, finacé, parent, . . . ) had asked the right question. Go, Girls, Go. Lynn

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