You will probably come to resent me for my memory. I remember everything– not photographically, like some cursed souls, but I’ve filed away an absurd amount of meaningless data. It’s a big advantage for storytelling, and terrible disadvantage for forgiveness. I can visualize any of the three of you storming away from me as frustrated tweens, screaming “You never let anything go!” I apologize in advance.
One thing I enjoy about these acute recollection skills is that I have an easy time remembering good moments, good traits, and good people. This helps me have a ton of respect for your mother. She does so much for us all of the time, and I’m thankful that I couldn’t forget those things even if I wanted to. It keeps me appreciative.
I worry about how each of you will view your mother… whether your attitude toward her will be dictated by a cumulation of experiences, or just the mood of the day. I urge you, when you’re old enough, to cling to some memories that illustrate how much she loves you. It’ll help get you through the incessantly stern and fragmented interrogations you’ll face, like “Why. Aren’t. Your. Dirty. Clothes. In. The. Laundry. Basket? I. Already. Told. You. Ten. Times. This. Week.”
When my memory started to permanently capture and store moments I was very young. Most people I talk to remember a little of kindergarten, and really start to inwardly record their own lives around 7-8 years old. I was barely three, and I’m eternally grateful I was so young, because I was able to capture a couple of glimpses of my own mother before she passed away. My first memory is of me running full speed into the corner of a coffee table. She gathered me up, bandaged my head, and chuckled about the fat deformity on the forehead of an already chubby-faced little boy. Her laughter calmed me.
Another memory I have is coming in from rolling around in the snow, just as she finished boiling up some Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. She sat me on the countertop, took an individual noodle from the pot, placed it between her lips, and inhaled it in a way that resembled the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp. She then let me try. I knew we weren’t supposed to play with our food. I remember feeling skeptical… like I had been in trouble for similar behavior before. Still, the mischievous sparkle in her eye made me feel like this was our little secret. We sat, laughing, and eating macaroni and cheese with our hands, one noodle at a time.
One of the last memories I have of my mother is being repeatedly shushed in a lecture hall at The University of Wyoming. She had gone to college after her and my father parted ways, and on the days that she couldn’t find someone to babysit, she’d take me to class with her. I tried to be good. It was hard. I just wanted to play, and make noise. I think on that memory every time I tell any of you to quiet down. I know you don’t understand that whatever we’re doing is in our best interest as a family. I know you just want to play and make noise.
What is written in this letter makes up 75% of the total memory I have of my mother. I know plenty of her from what others have relayed to me. I know she was fun, musical, quick-tempered, spontaneous, determined, argumentative, athletic and loved me very much– but those aren’t my memories. Your mother is here with you now, and she’s really special. My hope for you is that you collect all you can of her. From the tiny macaroni-and-cheese moments to the times of anger and discipline, reflect on these experiences and know that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. If we ever aren’t here with you, you will have saved something of infinite value– pieces of us that remind you how much you are all loved.