Friday, September 4, 2009

I don't remember the boat.

Sometimes mom's memories feel like an assault, usurping my memories as more important, more compelling, more accurate than mine.
It's not that I don't like to hear her stories. I've recorded her memories in each of the last three decades. I've scribbled notes on the back of photos and on the backs of envelopes when she recalls an experience.
As I've researched genealogy, she has been a resource for the smallest of details, which give me clues to follow.
I know where her high school annual is kept, which she looks at every few months. I store her high school mementoes in her old cedar chest in my living room.
I don't have my high school annual, or any mementoes.
She remembers poems her high school principal used to read.
I don't remember my principal.
She read at four, was the youngest library card holder in her hometown, was an involved member of the high school drama club, dated the high school football quarterback.
I ditched school and went to the beach with Jerry Moore, the school "bad boy." I was never involved in school activities. I finished high school, but "dropped out" emotionally.
I have my memories. But I wonder if anyone will ever be as interested in my memories as I am compelled to be of hers.
My memories feel crowded, insecure. It's as if we've each written our memoir and hers gets published and mine languishes in a box of journals, compressed by layers of ink and paper.
Sometimes I want to tell mom I don't care any more about her memories.
Enough is enough.
But I'm continually drawn in, fascinated that she can get so tired, so done with life, and then her eyes sparkles and she giggles, and out comes another story.
Her stories are funny and she laughs and I laugh and think how blessed she is to have her memory intact.
There are those times she remembers things that didn't happen, or happened to different people. But not often.
She remembers details. What a person said. What they wore. How they acted.
One day several years ago she said, "Remember when you and me and Tom and Jared went out on the whale watching boat off Carlsbad and we were on deck and Tom said...", and she told me exactly what Tom said.
I said, "I don't remember going out on the boat."

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