Not too long ago, I went to hear the author of one of my favorite books, Under the Tuscan Sun, speak at the University of Georgia. Frances Mayes had just authored yet another book – this one was her memoirs. She encouraged everyone to write theirs. She said, “Just think how wonderful it would be if you could read about your ancestors. One should write, if not for publication, at least for family history”. I was immediately inspired. I know I would love to be able to read the actual words of some of my ancestors. I will occasionally run across random pictures of long ago, lovingly taken, with no name, no date, no explanation. It is a mysterious glimpse into another life from a forgotten time and it always makes me wistfully wonder. I wish that I’d asked more questions while I had the chance. I wish that I’d sat at their knee more often to hear their stories.
Thus, I have embarked on this monumental undertaking. I am not so sure that I am an interesting subject, being at the tail end of the baby boomers and living strategically in a time of peace and protest. Oddly enough though, a television show found a voice that chronicled this very time period in which I grew up, and called them, The Wonder Years. They really were.
Thus, I will write. I will write for my children who only experienced their perspective of me on a very small part of my journey. I will write for my grandchildren who will only know me as an old woman. I will write for my great grandchildren who will never know me at all. Oh My!….daunting thoughts.
I have always visualized that a person’s life is a column of memories with intersecting pieces into other people’s columns. When a person dies, so too their memories. Their column evaporates into thin air, unless some of those stories are passed on to others for safe keeping. I find that I am the sole guardian of some memories, both mine and others who have gone before. I realize that to keep them alive, I must give them away to be stored carefully in another column.
I have it heard it said that our earliest memories are just scattered events that hold a focused place in our mind. They are merely snapshots upon the landscape of time. It is only when we become older that our life can be written as a narrative. My earliest life is the result of stories that I was told or pictures that I’ve seen. Fact or Fiction…there is no one and no way to corroborate these stories any more…so I will promise to relay them to the best of my ability. As a disclaimer, I must confess, my memory doesn’t work the way it use to do. “Time plays tricks on you. Memory is an unreliable narrator. History gets rewritten in small ways with each passing day.” Remembering was once was a source of great pride for me…now it is mostly a source of frustration of what I can’t quite dust off from the attic. However, writing has actually unlocked a few memories that I had long since forgotten. Memories that make me smile and wake up a place where they have erstwhile been sleeping. That alone is worth this process. It allows me a lifetime of searching for my past Tree Stars. Invigorated by this process, I greatly encourage you to so the same.
Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. ~ The Wonder Years