Memories of lost days, of hot summer days, bathing suits, shimmering water caressing the beach, wooden rafts and treehouses, and of painted toenails. Memories ring out at a touch, a smell, an event or place we swear we’ve seen or visited before.
How do we love our mothers, remember our fathers and oh, how their memories play with our lives. Freud would talk about that as sexual-fixations. Jung would suggest not memories as they play in our minds, but archetypes. And then, I wonder, how does an animal remember us? Are we vicious, life-threatening? At times, yes. Are we nurturers, providing shelter and warmth and food. At times. Do they remember faces, or scent or the sound of a hunter’s rifle? Or are we just a blur of confused body language, noise and clumsy footsteps?
My cousin asked me today if it was wrong to tell her dying ex-husband that she loved him. She felt guilty. But this isn’t right. I can’t know her memories, but time has drawn them apart to the point where the memories of their days together are diffused and death now threatens to separate them permanently. Should she love him? Yes. Should she remember him? Yes. It is what life is, memories, those reflections we can draw out at will. They are what we make of them, some of them bitter, some of them warm and full of laughter, mostly evocative — oh, yes, I remember the warm, fresh donuts we ate while we watched Charles’ and Diana’s wedding, my first doll in a bright red snowsuit, visiting my brother before we adopted him, giant mouth-filling wads of bubble gum, high school exams and yes, painted toenails.
I can still feel the tears on my face when a friend was killed, run down by a runaway driver, saying goodbye to a grandfather I refused to forgive, saying goodbye to a father I still miss. Or the smell of autumn leaves, their sound as we walked through them in the park, family weddings and funerals, passion run hot, run cold as the seasons do. The burn of a knee scraped from a fall, the stink of a pulp and paper company near Niagara Falls, the mist from the falls, and the sight, the sound of massive turbines under the Falls. Bee stings and climbing across the Indian Rock, feeling its ancient petroglyphs carved into the granite, the cool dew settling on our faces when we sprawled on our backs to watch the Milky Way.
Did you count the meteors singing across the sky during a Perseids Meteor Shower? I did and remember that too. White-out snowstorms, steamy sulphur in the mouth of a volcano on St. Lucia in my nose where it clings and refuses to leave for hours. The Roller-coaster Road in Haliburton, my stomach left on the hills behind the car. The Canadian Exhibition with it’s food — you make your lunch from the samples, crisp bacon on buns, Honeydew cool and tangy, sticky donuts and cotton-candy fluff eaten mid-day in the heat as the crowds stroll by, sticky fingers wiped on shorts when no one is looking.
My cousin and long vegetarian dinners, my husband and his kidney transplant and the lasting humanity of the young boy who donated it. Each memory I have transports me to another as they flow through my mind to the keyboard to these words, then out and away to the Internet. Someday, I’ll remember writing this blog, with the west sun heating up through the window, one cat watching for chipmunks, another scratching the door to be let in.
Memories hang in the imagination, in parallel universes of different times, alternate places, actions, events, voices, senses and impressions departed long ago, recalled now in a moment of quiet. I re-live these memories with wonderment, relish their heart, grieve their losses, of innocence, of intimacy as life pulls us away from each other, society imposes its inhibitions, the nail polish dulls and chips and at last vanishes leaving us the impressions of a life lived long, of people well-loved, or places and times swirling in a well of human experience, my experience, always and forever hovering on the horizon.