Memories: Unique to all of us

Semi-weekly columnist shares personal observations and insights

To some degree we all have early memories. My oldest brother swears he can remember being in the crib. His description is vivid and detailed and I have no doubt that in his mind his memories are true to him. I don’t mean to say what he believes to be true is simply a figment of his imagination, but rather that we paint our own history. I, on the other hand, have very few memories of my childhood, or my youth, for that matter.

I once had a cousin say to me, “Karen, each family member writes her own history.”

I didn’t understand what she meant by that and so I simply bobbed my head in acknowledgment hoping that she wouldn’t question me and thus expose my ignorance.

Mind you, that was numerous years ago and I had to feel comfortable with asking the person to explain what he or she meant. Being that age and that maturity level, I never did feel comfortable asking someone to explain their position. Back then, for me, it was embarrassing to admit that I didn’t know everything and so to ask another what he or she meant was contrary and served to underline my inadequacies. Of course, when you are 30-something, you have no inadequacies. Right?

Anyway, I was getting to a point, but given that I am pushing 60, that point is sometimes elusive to grasp. Okay, that was a joke, so please laugh.

As I was saying, we all write our own history. That history serves to cushion the psyche and smooth out the barbs of hurt and pain we all go through as we traverse the difficult and sometimes rocky road of life.

My earliest memory was not of peering through bars in cribs, but rather of a stormy and blustery day in Winnipeg. I think I might have been about eight years of age. Life was gentle on me at that point. Yes, I had a not very nice home life, but my life outside of that was typical, if not warm. My siblings and I attended St. George’s school in Winnipeg.

It was a school typical of that time. Teachers were stern and so were the rules. The girls were required to wear a subscribed pleated tunic with a white shirt, saddle shoes and white stockings. For my parents that was Godsend. Other than the cash it took to purchase those required outfits, they were off the hook for the rest of the school year when it came to dressing their children in style.

On that one particular day the skies opened up with all their fury and dumped buckets of heavenly tears upon their subjects.

For this third grade girl, the walk home was a lesson in yin and yang and the beauty of nature as She alternately rained down upon me and then offered me the succulent and sweet moments of life. As I walked towards home my umbrella in hand protecting my hair, I blithely picked the honeysuckle along the way. I vividly remember the loud claps of thunder and the bright flashes of light as She showed me her power and ultimate beauty.

Upon reflection I can still taste the warm sweetness of the honeysuckle in my mouth, but I also taste the sweetness of youth and a time when life was measured in footsteps, not money, and when the things which brought the greatest pleasure cost not a cent.

As I stroll along my aging and honeysuckle’d path I try to remember that life is filled with yin and yang. It thrives on those differences, or dichotomy. Dichotomy, She says, is the tool upon which the goodness and spirit of life is truly measured.


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