What I Remember Is

I suppose we all remember things differently.

Fact is not always, exact.   Yeah,  you all just said “uh, yes, Colleen, fact is always  exact”.    To quote the most hated term of the last ten years “whatever”.

My point is that fact is not always, remembered.   Clearly.   The “fact” of the memory isn’t necessarily always the important part of a memory.   What I remember is.

The hot and sunny day I walked out of a house that held hostage, yet cocooned, a physically incapacitated woman is not made more important by knowing the exact temperature of the hot day.   Or the exact reason why I was there.   The important part of that day, to me, is remembering the flood of guilt, gratitude and confusion of being able to walk out and feel the hot sun.  And the moment I stood by my car, hesitating to get in and drive away, because I could get in and drive away.   Because, though she appreciated my concern, she didn’t want my concern.

The facts of that day are not nearly as important to me as the moments of realization.   I had abilities at that moment that she use to have.  And I had abilities at that moment that I may not one day have.    And did she, at any time in her life, consider that before it became her reality.

Facts do not rank high in my brain organization.   Never have.  So likely never will.   Moments, packed full of emotion, they rank high.   Always have, so likely always will.

Years ago I remember coming down the steps, to my little self at the time it was probably some unGodly hour like 10 p.m.   The fact of the time I walked down those steps does not matter.   What I remember, that matters.   Mom and dad were watching tv, alone.   Alone, mind you when you have 7 siblings there is never anything happening alone.  Especially your parents.  Likely not all of us were born since I was so little, but that fact doesn’t matter either.   I was born number four so there was never alone.   I remember standing on the steps, at the banister, looking through it to my parents.   I remember my dad beckoning me down and asking me what was wrong.  I remember telling him my legs hurt.  I remember him telling me it was probably growing pains.

I remember sitting in his lap.   It is the only little me memory I have of me and my dad.  The only clear one.   The only one where there aren’t a bazillion siblings around.   The facts just are not important.  What I remember is.

I’ll argue a point endlessly on what I think a fact is.  Between you and me?  If it comes down to facts, I’m probably wrong.   Doesn’t mean I’ll stop arguing what I think I know.   So what I actually know is probably pretty slimpy (combination of slim and skimpy-I hereby copyright that word).

When I was growing up and there were eight little kids, we were innocent.   And we were beautiful.   That, is a fact, in my belief and in my memory.   I will argue that fact.  I believe that fact.   But in addition to the fact is what I remember.   I remember our innocence.  I remember our church going, praying before dinner family.  I remember singing on top of the utility truck as an air band long before air bands became trendy.   I remember life as God gave it to us, before the world changed it.  I know facts are hazy and things may not have been perfect.   But there was goodness and joy in those eight little kids.   It doesn’t matter how perfect we were or were not.   That’s not what is important.   What I remember is.

Fact is I couldn’t tell you three of my four grandparents names until I was an adult.   They were Grandma and Grandpa, Grandmother and Grandfather.   I only knew my grandfather’s first name because that was the name his own children called him.   But I can tell you Grandfather was patient with me and quietly kind.   Grandmother seemed stern but the stories she told me painted me a picture that I saw much clearer as I grew older, and I appreciated what she lived through and her kindness was different, but there.   Grandpa smoked the best smelling cigar ever and loved to fish.  He loved Grandma and we knew it by his pinching her hind end as she walked by.   Grandma told me stories about each of her 12 children and laughed over memories of each of them, even though she carried a burden of heartache I wouldn’t understand until I was older.    There are so many facts about them that I don’t remember.   But I don’t need those facts to have my memories and my mental pictures.   People can tell me facts that I don’t know.   But that doesn’t matter.   What matters is what I recall.

What I remember is what matters.   I once read that it is difficult for us to retain information  that does  not have a sense of importance to us.   So, facts that do not pertain to my emotional recall …. apparently I set them adrift.  If the time, or the date, or the temperature or the brand name of the cigar doesn’t  change the impact of my love, my fear, my excitement, and my moments in life….. it doesn’t matter.   It’s not important.   What I remember….is what is important.