“It’s surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.” ~Barbara Kingsolver
While planting my garden last Friday, a couple of Blue Jays swooped overhead and perched on a crabapple tree close by. They called to each other in what most people think is the most irritating bird call ever! However, their piercing voices transported me immediately from a hot, dusty, garden to my grandmother’s little gray house on Broadview Street in Jackson, Mississippi.
I remembered playing under her huge Magnolia tree in the back yard while she hung towels on the clothesline. Blue Jays scolded her for being too close to their nest the entire time she worked. She had only disgust for the irritating birds. But, over the years, long after her death, their call takes me back to her. I find myself helping her water the tiger lilies, pink azaleas and Rose of Sharon bushes in her front yard. Sometimes my mind goes back to playing in the water sprinkler while she gathered figs from the tree in the back yard. Then, when I return to my present state, the rest of the day is flavored with the sweetness of that memory.
There is a saying that we cannot take anything with us when we die. I have to disagree. I think we will always have our memories. The reason I chose the quote above is because we are making memories without realizing it. Good memories, and sometimes bad ones.
When I was around four my mother and father divorced. Mom went back to work and her dear friend babysat me. I’ve always heard how this friend loved me. So much so that she even asked if she could adopt me. Single moms weren’t the norm way back then. The sad thing is I only have one memory of this woman who loved me so much. I can still see it all in my mind. Her son, who was a few years older, and I were eating chicken noodle soup for lunch. I complained that he had a larger bowl than I did. She took me by the hand and led me to the basement door. When she opened it all I could see down the dark stairs were three red lights. She said, “Do you see those red lights?” I nodded. She continued, “Those are the three bears and if you keep whining, I’m going to lock you up down there with them.”
I know this dear lady would turn over in her grave to know that one day had traumatized me so much that it shut down any other memory I had of her. But I really should thank her because when I realized the impact that had on me, I’m more careful with children.
For the next couple of weeks, I want to explore two things. What to do with bad memories, and how to make good memories.
Money can’t buy them. Thieves cannot steal them. Everyone has them. At the end of our lives, it is the good memories we wear like a warm blanket on a cold day.
Next week we will take a look at how to make good memories and what to do with bad ones. I invite you to join the discussion on the Inspire page. I would like you to share the catalyst that sends you back to a certain place or person. Is it a bird call? A fragrance? A song?
I look forward to hearing what you have to say!