He turned to me and smiled. It was a flash of a moment. A quick grin. In total, it probably lasted less than a second, and when it happened, I really didn’t think too much of it. But, it was the same smile – the same welcome – the same hello – the same moment of family affection – that we have shared over the past 50+ years.
Throughout the day’s activities, I probably saw that same smile a hundred different times. . . when we loaded into the boat . . . when we jumped into the lake . . . when we prepared to eat . . .when we ate . . . when we cleaned . . . when we sat and talked . . . when we drank . . . when we reloaded into the boat . . . when we watched fireworks.
I can honestly say that I can only recall a fraction of our topics of conversation. We talked a lot, about a lot of great subjects. But if pressed, I must admit that the specific details are more than a little bit blurry to me. The smile, however, is etched clear as a bell in my mind.
And that is fascinating to me.
I find it interesting to think about what I retain in my memory and what I don’t. It is a filing system that I have never really understood. I have memories and the ability to remember, but I have no idea how it all comes together.
That part’s a blur.
I think I have a solid ability to memorize, which means I can actively place something in storage and bring it to the forefront when necessary. That part isn’t random. It is intentional. Sooooooo comforting to know that the memory part of my mind is not just a vast wasteland!
I also have memories that are linked to sounds and smells and sights and tastes and touches. Drinking lemonade brings out memories of my grandfather. Carole King songs take me back to 8th grade backyard camp outs. If I smell suntan lotion, I am time-warped back to every Florida vacation I ever took as a child.
My interest isn’t in the fact that there are sensory associations to my memory. Moreover, I would like to know why these particular associations. What clicked in my brain to forever link various everyday items with happenings in my past.
All I can say is – interesting!
In addition, I have taken my fair share of general education courses targeting the memory topic. Somewhere in my educational background is a stream of knowledge on this very issue. I spent credit hours and clock hours of time reading books, listening to lectures, writing papers, and taking tests to expand my mind about what memories are. The good news is that I can recall taking those classes. The bad news is that the exact content is a little vague . . . until and unless I read my college notes as a refresher or I utilize that Scholar-Google for a little assistance. My memory on memory is less than memorable.
I am the type of person who tends to have an imbalance in terms of positive/negative memories. Like everyone else, I have had my fair share of not so pleasant circumstances in my life, but I only really remember the glass half full times. Bad moments, hard moments, sad moments are in that great big filing system in the sky, but happy, crazy-funny, joyous moments are the easiest for me to recall. I assume it is like that for everyone. I know it is for me.
The 2018 July 4th weekend brought all kinds of moments into my life.
I will remember the outline of young Brooke sailing towards us on the paddle board in the dim of the early evening on the lake.
I will remember the laughter of Max and Cosi as they were pulled behind a slow-moving boat.
I will always see the gentle hand of Craig as he kindly moved a rope back and forth to ensure the safety of several young charges being towed behind the boat.
Without any trouble at all, I will hear the chatter coming from the cousin table – a group of nine lake-logged guys and gals, boys and girls whose ages ranged from 6 to 39 – as they sat outside together eating, talking, laughing, and bonding. And the chatter coming from the adult table – same activity a mere few feet away from the first group.
With all of these memories, I cannot recall any of the details sandwiched in between the moments. Many hours passed, so I know a lot more actually happened. But I can barely recall exactly what we ate. I have no idea what everyone was wearing, and I am quite sure I can’t remember who arrived first or departed last.
What I will remember of these times is much more stark and simple.
My daughter’s twinkling eyes . . . my sister-in-law’s laugh . . . my brother’s hug . . . my cousin, Carl’s smile.
This life is the best life ever.