Ok. This is my third attempt at trying to write something here this evening. I love to write with music playing and on my first attempt I tried my Pandora station of Bluegrass Gospel...mmmm, no. Then it was Contemporary Christian...that didn't do anything for me either. So now I've got it on my Piano Instrumentals and I guess I'm like Goldilocks because this music is 'just right'! Third time seems to be the charm. Maybe I'll get somewhere now.
I have very few photographs of myself when I was a little girl. We didn't have much money and film was a luxury back in the 1950s. I have always loved this photo. I'm sitting on the porch with my brother who is 2 1/2 years older than me and with my paternal grandmother. My brother and I are bundled up but Grammy is sitting there in one of her old house dresses, short-sleeved, no jacket on. This was taken in Washington State along the coast and I notice the sun is shining. I can't tell you what a rarity that is there thru the winter and spring months. I'm having a hard time gauging when this must have been taken because my grandmother died on Easter Sunday when I was 3. That was in 1957, and I don't think I look much beyond 2 or 3 here. My birthday is at the tail end of December, so I'm thinking this must've been just around the time she died. With all that said...I can't remember my grandmother, not consciously. But see that funny-looking thing I'm clutching in my arms? It was a cardboard lady. The back of it, which is pointing out at the camera, is blank, but on the other side, the caricature was of a very refined lady with a striped parasol. She had on a beautiful dress and high heels. It sat on top of the dresser in my grandmother's bedroom and I simply loved that cardboard doll. It was a special privilege for me to be allowed to hold it when I came to visit and it's the first thing I ran to claim whenever I arrived there.
Why would I remember a cardboard doll but not my grandmother? I can remember the smell of the house she lived in because my grandfather was a heavy smoker and the cigarette smoke was almost overwhelming as you walked in. I can remember the outside of the house, what her dresser looked like in her bedroom, her old dog Muffet. But when I try to bring up an image of her, my mind is empty. What I do have when I think of her is more of an emotional memory. I can feel a deep sense of love and warmth and comfort. But try as I might I can't 'see' her.
The mind is a strange storehouse. I can remember things from 55 years ago like it was yesterday, and yet I can't remember where I put my glasses. I can relate a memory to my oldest brother that's crystal clear in my mind and he'll tell me, "No, it happened this way, not that way!" My daughter can remember even the most minute detail of her childhood...and my son can't remember anything. Why does my brain let me remember riding home in the car, looking over the backseat at my newborn baby brother cradled in my mother's arms, when I was 6...but I can't remember my mother's voice 24 years after she passed away?
Time is a funny thing. I heard it explained in an interesting way today: We are allowed the time allotted for our lives from the moment we're born to the moment we die. Our time didn't exist before that, and our time ended then, in the physical sense. And as to memories...well, we're only still 'alive' when there's still someone left here on Earth to remember us. Once that last family member or acquaintance we knew passes away themselves...well, we die again right along with them, really. It kind of gives time a different perspective thought about that way, doesn't it?
I don't know about you, but I'm glad there are a lot of things we don't remember. There have been many things in my life I've striven to forget. And yet I'm sure there are a lot of things I wish I could remember, like the hugs and voice and smile of my grandmother, the voice of my own mother. With Grammy, all that is lost forever but thankfully, with my mom, there are still old VCR tapes I can pull out and play where I can see and hear her again. With the sound and the image, she comes alive again for those few moments and my memory is refreshed. Because I'm still here and I remember her, she's still alive for me, even if she is just a memory.