I’ve been thinking about the meaning of memories. A set of facts : yes. Mine for example – born in London, my parents not long married when my mother dies, I am five. My father is
bereft and does not speak about her at all, as if she has not existed. I am sure he was
distraught and completely changed by the experience, which he does not share with me.
The meaning of my ‘story’ was fragmented. Looking back now, I see how I set off on a search
to join up the fragments. This search included facts, of course, about extended family members – who exactly was Uncle Jeffery ? How many cousins do I have ? More importantly I searched for role models to fill the gaps, to join up my story. Where do I fit into wider world? I heard an actor on the radio say: ‘Memory is something you recall that doesn’t exist’. I’m sure that the experience of ‘absence’ in families is common. Also, for people with clear family histories, their own memories of the same events, compared to their siblings, or grandparents, say, are completely different. It’s a different kind of truth than the factual one, filtered through fixed stories and beliefs about certain people. Grandfather was stern but kind…or the 60’s. So free and spontaneous ! That’s the filter I held about the 60’s for a long time. Now I realise, my memory was of a brief period and very particular to the group I belonged to.
Hippy clothes, Eastern influence, bells – collage.
Ban the bomb and organic vegetarian food – collage.
Looking forwards – decided to set up Lasting Powers of Attorney now, before it is needed. It seems a good idea, the right thing to do. Thanks to Atul Gawande’s marvellous book ‘Being Mortal’ for calmly exploring this territory.
I’m sitting at my desk filling in the forms. One question asks: what in your life is important to you ? Feel a shiver, that’s quite a wake up call. To imagine yourself in the future with no mental capacity, and dependent on others to decide what you would want. Outside, today the sun is brilliant, the leaves a vibrant green and exuberant. Who wants to let go of that ? I jump up, grab the dog lead and the dog and go to the meadow. Better get some of that exuberance now.