A mind can be a messy attic that doesn’t take kindly to cleaning. Yard sale thoughts are jammed in the same memory box with fine antiques. The lyrics of every nonsense song since 1964 are crystal stamps in my mind, but conjure and concentrate as I might, I cannot recall the sound of my grandmother’s voice.
And what is the use of half a memory? Almost hearing her voice, thin and far, coming and going is a tug of war with a cobweb that has become more ragged with each pull. If I am only halfway to remembering, then why not just let me forget?
Apparently the mind is an autocrat who doesn’t like being a storehouse of mostly ignored things. When we try to extract something, the mind often shoves the memory of stink ahead of perfume. It may splatter us with multiple memories, altering the speed at which we remember them. Those remembrances we had hoped would linger, fizzle. Tormenting thoughts we wish would pass quickly, stay unbearably long.
I may not be able to hear my grandmother’s voice, but I am still a child of her child and I know my grandmother was more wise than clever. She didn’t need me to remember her voice. If she did, she would have found a way for me to do it. My grandmother knew the tricks of the monkey mind.
Her version of a life lesson was the imprint of experience. Other than safety precautions, my grandmother generally dispensed with excessive words, especially instructions, and offered her buffet of wisdom disguised as fun.
Much to my mother’s horror and maybe in spite of it, my grandmother often served me tea and toast for breakfast because she knew I liked the taste of the buttered bread after I dunked it. She watch me hour after patient hour, dragging around in her old Roaring 20s high heels. She’d upend an old silk lined suitcase from a back shelf and fill my afternoons with elbow length gloves, gobs of brooches, screw back earrings and hats with veils. In the evenings, she soft brushed my busy, tangled hair and would send me to sleep with the most gentle and marvelous scuffing of her fingertips across the inside of my arm.
What she gave me were not so many words to remember her by. Instead, she offered me, both lovingly and willingly, the ability to know my own senses. That, she knew, is a doing, not a remembering.