Unreliable Memories

Be careful before you believe what you remember.

Jane K. Cleland

When my younger brother was a child, he sprayed the kitchen of our home with the garden hose. That is a true fact.

My memories: My brother was two or three. He opened the back door and sprayed. I was soaked. I screamed for my mother to stop him. She wouldn’t. My older sister ran through the water and wrestled the hose nozzle from my brother. He hosed the kitchen a second time that summer.

My brother’s memories:  He was four or five. My sister and I had locked him out of the house. He deserved it. He plotted revenge and decided on the hose. When the back door opened, he took action. My sister and I ran down the hall screaming. There was one incident.

My sister’s memories: None.

During a long drive to visit grandparents, there was an incident involving a doughnut box. My siblings and I agree on that fact. We agree on the box’s yucky contents—and in hindsight we laugh. However, we have varying—sometimes conflicting—memories about other details.

Along the way, I learned that memories are unreliable.

How do you reconcile conflicting memories?

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