What counts as a memory?


cc licensed flickr photo shared by hushed_lavinia

Yesterday my son did something really nice. He not only read my blog post, but also provided feedback. God I love it when the men in my life do that! Anyway, he made an extremely good observation. He pointed out that if in order to stay in the present, we abstained from visiting the past, this might ultimately result in the fading away of our memories. Food for thought, eh?

However, I told him that personally, I thought flashbacks pertained to remembering difficult times in the past while memories had to do with reliving positive experiences. Although he walked away muttering, “Nonsense, Mom,” I could see a slight smile on his face. Perhaps because he’s all too familiar with the importance I place on memories.

So how is it that one day I’m encouraging you to “live in the present moment,” while the next I’m inviting you to revisit your memories, you may ask? Allow me to explain.

I was seven years old when I took up the pastime of rocking away on the porch with my grandmother. She always insisted the sole purpose of old rocking chairs was to “soothe the soul”. And soothe the soul we did. We would sit for hours rocking back and forth, sipping our ice water, content as can be.

During these times I would always ask my nana to tell me a story of her youth. She was always happy to oblige. Through her narrations I learned about the time she was thrown from a mule, how she spent her summers in France stomping grapes, and how she assisted her Father in the bakery they owned.

Every story provided me with details of my grandmother’s life and how her passion and zeal for life came to be. I also became aware of the importance of being a survivor and what being a lady was all about. Through it all, my granny would smile and laugh. She always wrapped up every story by saying, “Bella, delving into one’s memories is like reliving a time in one’s life, so make sure that when you do it, you remember the good times and not the bad.”

As an adult, I realize that while reliving a difficult experience can be cathartic, it can also be quite painful. I believe this is what granny was trying to tell me.

As I reminded my son of the difference between a flashback and a memory, my mind wandered. For a moment a series of fond memories seemed to pass before my eyes; my son as a baby, then as a toddler, his first day of school, and his high school graduation. Good times. All of them.

I too was smiling like an idiot as I followed him out of the room.

How about you? What fond memory makes you smile?

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2 thoughts on “What counts as a memory?

  1. I have fond memories of my childhood… playing tea party with my older brother, getting a dump truck for Christmas from my father and crying about it (now I laugh… I was 3), playing outside with neighbors…

    Gosh, I’m feeling rather nostalgic now.

  2. What a sweet post! I have some really fond memories of playing games with my dad and listening to stories of his childhood and his Navy days and various other periods in his life. Even now, he tells the same stories (over and over) and I can still remember the first time he told me; where we were, what we were doing. It brings back some of the loveliness of childhood that I often gloss over as I skim through the flashbacks.

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