How is a life remembered? Which stories seal our fate? I forget more stories than I care to admit. The more time that passes, the more stories accumulate, making more for me to forget. Which shall I memorialize? Which should I tell you?

Do I recall the ones where I am the hero who saves the day? The half-truths that will win me accolades, praise I’ll wish I deserved? Or, do I go with the truth? Dare I share the flawed, imperfect actions behind my best of intentions?

Do I let the one about that night slip? The fragrant, spring night when you crawled off the bed and fell on your head? Or the one where I may have broken a land speed record whisking you from the beach to the car then from the car to the bath to scrub away the allergen, I was worried would close your throat?

How would you tell these stories? Would you share them? Do you remember your life that far back?

You tested limits even then. The edge was never a warning, more like a dare to push against — or crawl off. Would you see the seeds of your ferocious self in that early act? Or would you blame my distraction,  maybe call it neglect, for letting you stray too far? Might you weave these stories into your life’s narrative? Or banish them to my grave when it’s my time to go?

Has your overly sensitive immune system made your psyche anxious? Did watching your skin bubble red make you fear the world? Nature may be out to get us allergic types – but that’s why we live in cities. With antihistamines. And inhalers. And doctors.

Is there a disconnect between the stories we tell and those that are heard?

“I was wrong. You were right.”
“Why is it always about you? Why can’t you just give me credit?”

Because I am the protagonist in my stories – the ones I tell you, and the ones I tell myself. Listen, listen for the twofold compliment. We now share the insight baton – gone is the time in life when I had all of the insights and answers the days when you were my sponge – the fabled “back then” when both of us thought that arrangement was how our world should work. When our world did work.

How is a life remembered? Through deeds done – and who records them. A life is remembered through both words spoken and those that are heard.






One thought on “Remembrance

  1. ProfRobert says:

    For about the first six months of my son’s life, I was petrified that I would do something wrong. Then it struck me that no matter what I did or didn’t do, I’d screw him up somehow. And, that notwithstanding, he’d probably come out of it pretty much ok. That’s pretty much been the case these past 12 years. Some Bad Mistakes I’d love to take back, but conversely, he can recognize now that *he* doesn’t have to be perfect, that Mistakes (even the capitalized ones), can be gotten past. He has the genetic hand he was dealt — some strengths, some challenges; he has the parents he was dealt — we are who we are. What’s striking is the stuff he seems to have come up with out of nowhere: empathy and caution, for example. As for stories, they are about all of us, or about family members who came before him (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.). He likes the stories, but his favorites (and mine) tend to start, “Hey, remember when we . . . .”

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