A new year always brings with it memories of older times, thoughts of those we no longer see, things we hope for the future and many feelings of time slipping by while we are too busy living life. When we look to the future it always seems we have an over abundance of time and then it moves so quickly that we feel like a whirling dervish; each day passing so quickly that we cannot possibly take it all in and remember it for all time. Memories are important to give meaning to our existence. Memories keep those we love alive even after they are gone. Memories bring us closer to what makes us who we are. So why do we only remember bits and pieces of our lives?
Just a few days ago, on New Year’s Eve we were talking about memories and how old any of us were when we first formed a memory of any lasting significance. Most didn’t remember anything too early in their lives. I on the other hand, have a very vivid memory from my childhood when I was too short to see over the dining room table while standing; so I was probably only 2 or 3 years old. The memory is only a few seconds long, maybe 20 to 30 seconds and yet it comes back so strongly and with all the sights and sounds of the moment.
My parents were playing cards with my aunt and uncle when he offered me a sip of his beer. My mother tore him into him with such vengeance and ferocity it made a lasting impression on me as a small child. It might have been because my Mother was normally not a loud demonstrative woman. She was a true 1950’s housewife; always ready with a clean house, meals on time, laundry finished and put away, but most importantly always allowing Dad to set the tone for whatever event would happen in our home. When we were small, I never remember my Mom raising her voice for anything except to call us in from outside.
But, that night, Mom let my uncle know in no uncertain terms that her children were never going to drink beer until they were old enough to make that decision and could choose for themselves. She made it abundantly clear that he would never offer another child a drink of alcohol if he wanted to continue to be part of our family. It was never going to happen in her house, within her eyesight, while she was living. Period! Then she showed him the door and they left. It seemed like a long time before my aunt and uncle came back to play cards again.
All I can think is that Mom’s outburst was so very out of character that it made a lasting impression. Even 60+ years later; I remember.