Memories Of A Lifetime

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. ~From the television show The Wonder Years

I am faltering with this topic of memories. I have no idea where I am going with this so I’m going to let the words fly where they will.

I used to have a fabulous memory. Then I got old! Now I suffer from CRS. However, Dirt Man thinks I remember everything. Everything that has ever given me reason to be angry at him, that is. But that’s not really true. I might stew for a while, but I give it up. Heck, sometimes I can’t even remember my name and I have to check my driver’s license. And even then I have to look in the mirror to make sure the picture matches. Seriously though, my memory has really gone down hill. I remember the wonderful times (and even the not so wonderful times) throughout my life, but my short term memory has gone to pot. I mean I need a grocery list. I date my bills in order of when payments are due. All appointments go on the calendar. I just have to remember to look at the calendar. I do remember that once upon a time I only weighed 125 lbs , and I didn’t have any grey hair or wrinkles. I suppose I might have even been considered “hot”. Yeah those days were a LONG time ago!

So, on the days that my memory sucks, I just compare it with my computer. I know the information is in there somewhere I just can’t find it. I mean I will forget someone’s name. A name I should know as well as my own (that I also can‘t remember!). Or I’ll forget some tidbit of general knowledge like the title of a movie or book author. And eventually, I do remember, just not always in a timely manner. And of course, there are the times, I put things somewhere for safe keeping, but for some reason not in same place I usually put things. Why oh why does memory not serve me well then? And sometimes I find those things – after I’ve replaced them or when I’m searching for the next thing I’ve lost or misplaced. Am I the only one who does these things?

Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume. ~Jean de Boufflers

I have always found it amazing how scent evokes such strong memories. For me these are usually memories involving my childhood. I will never be able to smell Avon Cotillion perfume without being enveloped in a warm hug from my mother. And my father has always had this oily/woody hair tonic smell to his head. The smell of succotash takes me back to my grandmother. Lemon cake wafting through the air is my Aunt Jenny. And the fun smell of play dough takes me back to the sweet summer- kindergarten teacher I had many years ago…and the play dough somehow always takes me to the bouncing the hippoty hops on the basketball courts that summer. And then there are the not so pleasant fragrances that bring back memories, like tequila. I won’t even go there in this post. Or stifling cigarette smoke and stale beer bring back memories of my father’s poker nights. And the smell of the river (trust me, there is a distinct aroma) that always takes me home to the mountains. Kind of like the salt sea breeze means I’m close to my now home. Sorry, I seem to have gone off on a tangent here. Back to memories in general.

Memories stir up strong emotions in me. Memories can make me feel all warm, cozy, and comfortable. I even laugh out loud while recalling some events. And some give me strange feelings that I can’t quite put my finger on; I guess I’d call those unsettled feelings. Some memories are sad and bittersweet and others downright tragic. I can think back to my own children’s childhoods and get totally lost in the memories. From the baby moments and up, I absorb their sweet scents and innocence and wish I could stay there. Those were the days when I was not just needed but wanted. Memories sometimes make me wish I could go back and do it over. And some of them make me thrilled that those days are over. At any rate, I’m thankful that my mind (what I have left of it) has a filing system of memories that I can take out and relive anytime I wish.

Have you ever experienced déjà vu (paramnesia)? This post would be remiss if I did not mention it. I have on occasion had the distinct feeling that I’d been at a particular place or experienced a particular event before but I couldn’t actually remember it even though it was distinctly familiar. I’ve had that with scents and sounds (particularly music). When this happens to me, it is the strangest feeling. I’m not quite sure how to describe it. I suppose this doesn’t exactly qualify as memory since I can’t remember…I’ll file it with forgotten memories!

I may not remember what you gave me for my birthday, but I will remember that you knew it was my birthday. I may not remember what you were wearing on a particular day, but I will remember the sparkle in your eyes and the way the edge of your lips turned up when you smiled. I may not always remember the joke, but I’ll always remember the laughter. I may not remember why I was crying but I’ll remember you held me and wiped away my tears. I may not always remember the exact words you whispered in my ear, but I will always remember the feeling I had when I was with you. And I may not have memory stored of every moment we had together, but I’ll always remember you.

We do not remember days; we remember moments. ~Cesare Pavese, The Burning Brand

52 thoughts on “Memories Of A Lifetime

  1. I have the same experiences when I crank up the iPod, or hear something on the radio or the television. Funny what I think of when advertisers think the coda from “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by the Who would make me buy their product. At least I can remember that! Somehow you are far more intact than you might believe, good blogger friend. EFH

  2. Certain memories are very strong me too; sometimes I feel my heart breaking all over again just like it did in that memory. Rough!

    I love, the last paragraph there…so true.

  3. Great post! I have many memories linked to scent. And I can never think of the word I want these days. I have to just relax and, like you said, know it’s in there somewhere.
    I do always think Alzheimer’s is particularly cruel. We take a whole life to build memories so we have them when we’re old, and then that disease just robs people of this.

  4. Oh, gosh…I can totally relate to the short-term memory problem. Sometimes I think that the instant I became a mother, the memory section of my brain turned to mush. Or at least I’ll blame it on that, because otherwise I have NO IDEA what the heck is going on up there 😉

  5. Songs provoke distinct memories for me. ANd the Deja vu thing happens all the time. I think I have vivid dreams and that is where the feeling comes from.

  6. I so love that last quote, remembering not days but moments. Music evokes memories for me as well as smells, scents and looking at old photos of pleasurable times long gone and people, I love looking at old pictures of friends and family and not so old baby photos of my daughter.

    Beautifully written post. As for losing your memory, being able to remember the long ago but not where you put your keys two minutes ago? That’s Momnesia not old age – at least I hope so, it’s what I tell myself 🙂

  7. music is the best way for me to recall submerged memories. If not the exact incident at least the feeling associated to it. I used to feel very upset that I could not remember the things I used to. I had an excellent memory. but now I just go with it and know that somehow, in some way, the are circling around in there and may pop up when I least expect it.

  8. This post is so appropriate, because just yesterday I was talking to someone at work about how my memory (with age) has gone to hell – HA!

    But, I remember something that Shirley Maclaine once said about the same thing, “Oh well, I guess as I get older, I’m not suppose to remember those things.”

    HAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Me too. My sense of smell is the strongest of memories for me. This is why I will always tell a customer who is searching for a new fragrance, to never purchase a fragrance if they have a cold, because whenever they use that fragrance, they’ll associate it with their cold. And it’s true.

    What I’m really bad at is remembering people’s name. Yet, it’s funny, I will remember something that they may have said to me, about their distant cousin getting married, the next time we meet.

    “Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume. ~Jean de Boufflers”

    Love that , SC!

    Have a great weekend, dear lady!

    X

    • I used to be fabulous at remembering names and faces and putting them together…I got so well at it I could easily identify the voice on the telephone (long before caller ID)…a gift that was a source of amazement to customers at my job…however, that gift flew away with the rest of memory!

  9. Scent *is* very powerful. It’s amazing to me, how much I don’t think about on a daily basis that I can be reminded of so unexpectedly by a smell suddenly wafting past. That the memories still exist safely somewhere in my brain always feels like a gift.

  10. Beautiful post. I completely agree about how scents can bring us back to something so clearly and instantly. It’s eerie.

    Music does that to me, too.

    And I also love the way you described those emotions we all get from memories – anything from melancholy to joy, to sadness or loss to laughter.

  11. I had trouble writing about memory too. I think despite your apprehension in writing this post, it is lovely piece. I like the idea of transporting yourself through smells and through connections with people. It isn’t the small details, but what emotion that encounters bring us.

  12. I like to think when I experience déjà vu I am in the right place at the right time. 🙂 I think it’s amazing, too, how smell generates memory. Or sound. Thanks so much for this great post!

  13. Sometimes I think I have totally lost it because I can’t remember anything. My office is a mess I can’t find anything. My poor cat must think that it is normal for humans to turn on the alarm, leave the house, then come back, disable the alarm, run upstairs, then come back down, turn on the alarm and leave again. In other words — I NEVER leave my house just once. I ALWAYS come back because I forgot something.

    I felt better yesterday when a three year old was talking and she said three words then her face went blank and she stoopped talking for a moment then said, “I forgot what I was saying.” So even very young minds do that!

    Great post. I love that you just let it fly and it was so awesome!

      • Exactly.

        The other day I was walking around the house looking for something, thank God that he actually attached my head because I know I would lose it. I can never find anything. Commercials on TV convince my I have ADHD. (Do you have those commercials in your area?) Ugh!

  14. “Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume.” Wow, I love that quote.

    It’s amazing how scent is tied to memory, isn’t it?! For me, the smell of a certain cologne, a type of food, a specific flower, will just transport me in time. I love it!

  15. I loved The Wonder Years! Probably my favorite show for many years! And then I went to college with the kid who played Paul Pfeiffer and knew I had really made it big. 😉

    Scent is probably my strongest sense connected to memory. Of all things, the smell of my grade school cafeteria is one that I randomly encounter again and again and it never ceases to take me back.

    Have a great weekend, Suzicate!

  16. A true post suzi.as far as I’m concerned I have a strong memory when it comes to retaining facts and words.But I have difficulty remembering numbers. have a happy weekend.

  17. I’ve always been bad at remembering- anything. I’ve managed to hone my ability to remember student’s names- But ask me about any event before yesterday and I’ve only got bits and pieces to share with you!

    My mom likes to say that her “rememberer is broken”, mine just never really worked.

    But you are right- especially about smells. And this is partially why certain foods will take us back in time as well.

  18. I’m so with you on this one Suzi!

    I feel like I lost my mind a few years ago. I’ll totally almost throw dirty laundry in the trash can, or attempt to put milk in the panty.

    The other day, Adam and I were leaving and as I was walking out the door, he goes…umm..honey….are you going to put your shoes on?

      • When I was in High School we wore pumps and I hated putting them on so I would take them WITH me and put them on at school. One day I forgot them. Would have been ok, but I had to go to work. Banks like their employees to wear shoes!

  19. I’m known for remembering the little details that others tend to gloss over, John hates when I repeat our conversations verbatim, especially when I’m pointing out that he’s wrong. 🙂

  20. Perhaps it’s a good thing that we remember moments. I don’t recall very many happy childhood memories, which seems sad, but I do relate certain scents to good feelings. Memory is really a rather funny thing.

  21. I have had many moments of de ja vu. It often leaves me so confused that I forget my reason for being there. : )

    I really like the computer metaphor. It makes sense!

  22. I have deja vu all the time, and have since I was a child. I used to have complicated, ridiculous theories about why, but now I just enjoy it.

    This beautiful sentence is my cue to shut the laptop and go snuggle with my honey: “And I may not have memory stored of every moment we had together, but I’ll always remember you.”

  23. I am in love with this post.

    Scent evokes such memories in me, too, and you made me want to try to write about it…

    I love the quotes, especially the one from The Wonder Years. I had a huge crush on Fred Savage and loved that show to pieces!

    😉

  24. I’m a smeller, too! I could always tell when my parents were going out for the evening because my mother would put on Fiamma perfume. God, do they even make that stuff any more?

    I love that quote from the Wonder Years. That show was great.

  25. I can remember things that I’ve actually participated in during my life. I can NOT remember any song lyrics, movie dialogue, or books. None of it. It goes in and then immediately is lost. I hate that!!!

    • I can’t remember song lyrics, quote movies or books either…..I think it’s a special gift in doing that or the psople who can just watch it too many times. I’ve always been jealous of people who can do that!

  26. Suzicate, you hit on so many many emotional things when it comes to memory, in general. I think we all suffer some longing for a greater sense of memory, to find those things (both actual and figurative) that are locked inside our minds and in the safe places we’ve hidden our treasures.

    Scent also conjures up some strong sensations for me. And yet, if you asked me to describe a memory associated with a specific smell, I would not be able to tell you until I caught a whiff of it.

    This post reminds me that we all struggle, in some way, to find balance with our own memory. So much, I feel, is selective. But then there are those little things that come about when we least expect it. Or a deja vu that hits so strong we are catapulted back to a specific portion of our own timeline.

    Lovely.

  27. Loved this post. My children ate my brain. Between that and not being 20 anymore, I’m a lost cause. I, too, feel a very strong connection between scents and memory. That, more than anything, is what triggers my memories. Just today I walked by a cedar fence and was instantly transported to summer camp. I felt giddy and weepy-nostalgic at the same time.

  28. All the more reason why I blog, it forces me to remember. Although it doesn’t help me remember where I put my coffee cup or where the heck the phone is! LOL!
    Great post!

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