Wednesday, 9 July 2008

memory lanes

Picked up mother from the station today. She and sister plus husband have been cruising on the River Elbe, then 3 days exploring Prague.
She was not best pleased.
Ma is 87, sister is 84 and sister's husband isn't even 80 yet, but the youngsters were not sprightly enough for my mother. Far too much sitting back, letting her make all the decisions, or go on side trips without them.
I suggested that ma always took the decisions, and if not, immediately insists on an alternative of her choosing.
She grunted that I was wrong, of course.
Anyway she is home, with a cold, refusing all support as usual.
She reports that sister's husband has dementia, I claim he just forgets things and sometimes gets lost. It made me wonder if she says the same about me, I don't usually forget where I live, but often forget what I have done. Complete black hole about whether I have done it at all.
Memory makes us who we are.
We remember the things we do and think [or most of them] and that linked narrative we tell ourselves is our identity, isn't it......?
Hattie the dog is an old girl now, old and knobbly. Sometimes, if she feels tired after an exuberant walk the day before, she will halt and refuse to go further, until I acquiesce and turn round.
Then she bounces with pleasure and sets off home, tail wagging, nose to the ground sniffing eagerly.
She understands a lot of words and phrases, and much body language and tone of voice. But how much does she remember, is her memory deteriorating now she is nearly as old as ma in doggy years.
I don't remember anything, except tiny snapshots, before I was ......10? I used to have a memory that I thought came from early on, but i have worn it away in the remembering and now I only have the words of telling myself the story.
I do remember chanting my times tables in Infant school - being so bad with numbers I would guess that is because I was so terrified of being last to get a red shiny paper apple on the tree collage on the gloss painted tiles of the classroom wall.
I remember my 2 last teachers at primary school, Miss Gretorex and Mr Endicott, both young, tho I think he had been in the War so he must have been in late 30s at least, I suppose. Fifty two in our class, ruler across the hand if we talked too much, I worshipped both of them.
Each time I type the word "remember" I leave out the second m.
I have noticed this before, once a mistake is repeated it seems to stick and I have to take conscious care not to continue thus. So I imagine that memory is some form of electrical charge that forges a path linking synapses, an alternative spelling starts a new path.
Our exhibition theme is Imprint this year so one of my mistress-pieces is plan of the various walk patterns Hattie and I make round the surrounding country side. Then I stitched the names of all the tress and birds we see. Very satisfying.
Think the other textile artists were a bit non plussed tho.

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