What If I Remembered?

Memories are important. But what about the ones that slipped away? After reading about unremembered family events. (See here.) I have been wondering how would I be different if those memories still existed?

Would I trust others more? Or less?

Would I trust my instincts more? Or less?

Would I take more risks? Or less?

Would I be more creative? Or less?

Would I be calmer? Or more anxious?

Would I perceive myself as dumber? Or smarter?

Would my adult hobbies be the same? Or different?

Would I have more respect for family and friends? Or less?

And many other questions.

Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.

Oscar Wilde

If Wilde is correct, my diary has gaps. Big gaps.

What do I wish I had known and am learning along the way? My perceptions—especially about myself and older family members —are inaccurate.

Has someone’s memory ever changed your opinion?


Memories That Slipped Away

For days, I delved into letters and cards dating from 1923 to the early 1990s. I discovered much about people I thought I knew. For example, my mother. Boy did she have a lot of beaus in college, and I thought she was overlooked.

And my grandmother. I knew she had a quiet family wedding. Her father disapproved because she was nineteen. However, I didn’t know the marriage surprised neighbors and extended family.

While a preschooler, my sister was more creative and skilled than she remembered. Once, she pantomimed multiple musical instruments.

Of course, I learned about myself. I wish I had a video of sixteen-month-old Mollie laughing and clapping 30 minutes straight at her older sister’s birthday celebration. Or fetching her jacket later that day and saying, “Want to go.” The answer to trick or treating with her sister was “No.”

16-month-old Mollie

I wish I remembered three-year-old Mollie being taught whole, half, quarter, and eighth notes by her five-year-old sister. Or her four-year-old thoughts when she said, “Write Grandmommy that I’m drawing her the silliest picture.”

The Silliest Picture

Unremembered childhood events feel like a lost self.

Do you long for memories of events you have heard about?

Book Recommendations

The Labors of Hercules Beal By Gary Schmidt

Children, why do your parents read out loud to you?

When we read a story, we experience things that we ourselves have never done. And especially when we’re young, it’s an opportunity for us to learn about places and people and things that otherwise we wouldn’t know about. And most importantly, it’s a chance for us to become wise … And so it’s out of your parents’ love for you that they want you to become wise. Wiser than your years.

Rev. Matthew Capone

I won’t claim that Gary Schmidt loves his readers like parents love their children, but he gives his readers opportunities to become wiser than their years. The Labors of Hercules Beal has the protagonist—and consequently readers—learn the following truths.

We don’t know what family and friends and neighbors are thinking and feeling—no matter how much we believe we do.

We can’t hide our thoughts and feelings—no matter how much we believe we can.

Perceived enemies are allies and help in unimaginable ways.

The beauty of Schmidt’s writing is that readers are encouraged as these truths unfold during unforgettable, dire circumstances in the life of protagonist Hercules Beal.

Thank you again, Gary Schmidt.


What Do I Really Want? #2

A year has passed since I decided that what I really wanted for my 65th birthday was to work a Christmas puzzle. (See here.)

My finished puzzle July 2022

Sometimes, it’s easy to know what I really want—the ray rather than the shirt. I had been eyeing the plush souvenir for days and made the switch as my husband walked to the cash register. The previous plan was matching Emerald Isle tech shirts.

The ray joins a plush crab, otter, and alligator.

Other times, it’s not so easy.

My husband and I are searching for our retirement home. We recently toured a one-level brick with spacious bedrooms, a remodeled kitchen, and more importantly, in an excellent location—close to events, lots of woods and an easily maintained large lot. Except, I discovered after the tour that what I thought might be my “dream house” in a “dream location” wasn’t what I really wanted.

What do I really want?

Unlike working a puzzle or buying a souvenir plush ray, this decision has rest-of-my-life consequences.

How do you decide what you really want?

Parenting, Stories I tell

Stories I Tell: A Brother’s Counsel

Seven years ago this month, my youngest was involved in a wreck that totaled his car and left him unscathed.

“We have family in every city,” I told my son who was hundreds of miles from both our home and his. “This family is called church.” I suggested he use his smartphone and find a local church. I was over an hour from home with a flip phone.

I texted another son and raced home to the internet. My husband was in Italy, and I needed to notify him.

My church suggestion caused my stranded son to send a group text to church brothers who rescued him the next day.

Why the next day? His older brother said so.

While I was driving home, he was taking charge. The quality of counsel he gave amazed my husband and me—more detailed and informed than ours would have been.

“He was Papa Bear taking care of his cub,” I said later. The cub agreed. “I told my friends he was calling the shots.”

During a time of trauma and uncertainly, my heart rejoiced in my sons’ relationship and the wisdom they showed in giving and receiving advice.