Memories are Strange Things

Memories are strange things. I picture my memories stored in some huge dresser with an ever growing number of different size drawers. Those drawers sometimes mysteriously lock or mix up events and people in ways that confuse and confound. I have been checking memory drawers for some years, looking for more of my childhood memories and for more memories of when my adult children were truly children. What triggers memories is even more mysterious than my messed up, jumbled, tangled memory drawers. I’ve read that scents can prompt memories. Not for me. Too many years of sinus infections dulled my scent sensor. Sometimes I smell fresh coffee or bacon but that only signals Ken making breakfast for us. If I spray lavender on a pillow, I remember my mom in a quilted light blue silky bathrobe on those Sunday evenings when we had a simple supper and an early bedtime. I didn’t understand then what I clearly understood as an adult. That was my mom’s way of having some quiet time with the love of her life, my dad. Remembering that leads me to thinking about Saturday afternoon matinees. Often there would be a Ma and Pa Kettle feature. They were a kind of hillbilly couple with lots of kids, sort of like the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. Add some cartoons and the afternoon matinee always ended toward late afternoon. We’d go home and find my mom and dad just getting up from a nap. Took me lots of years to figure that one out. Music opens up multiple memory drawers. I can almost hear them opening and slamming. I hear a song and I am back with another person, in another time, and I remember conversations, emotions, thoughts. One memory after another flashes and then slows so I can savor it or leaves as I force that drawer shut, cramming the memory back in, pushing it way to the back of the drawer. My nephew Garth’s book, Napkin Notes, released a stream of memories of my sister, his mom. They also made me lonesome for a simpler time when life lacked the complexity it has now.

Today, Ken was reading from a devotional. He read this prayer:

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I shall die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.

I was instantly back saying night prayers as a little girl with my younger sister. It never entered my head to deviate from what my mom was prompting us to say. My independent streak did not erupt until many years later. But Jeanne was not so meekly compliant and night after night she said her version.

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, And I pray I wake up in the morning. Amen.

I silently echoed her version. My understanding of God was pretty vague and I was not all that interested in going anywhere my mom was not. When Ken read that prayer during our devotions, I said not one word. I just enjoyed the memory. Then I tucked it carefully back into a drawer stuffed with good childhood memories. Today I look forward to waking up each day as one more day to know God better, to serve in God’s Kingdom. But I am fine with having my Lord take my soul because heaven is my real home.


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© 2014 Patricia Keough-Wilson