“Memory lives longer than what it remembers.”
This quote from Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Cycle is stuck in my head. The entire work has been stuck in my head lately, but this quote may as well be lit with neon and hung right behind my eyes.
I remember hopping up behind my dad on his motorcycle. He used to pick me up at grade school and that gave this very un-cool girl some appreciation, let me tell you! More so than when he would pick me up in his police cruiser.
I remember that, because he did shift work, Dad was able to come to my daytime assemblies at school and watch me square dance in my blue-swirl frock with the pink velvet ribbon, or listen to my flatulent French Horn rendition of “Go Tell Aunt Rhody”.
I remember when Dad had us stay up half the night looking for money my step-brother claimed one of us had stolen, but which he had actually spent at See’s Candy that day. At the time, it seemed like a symptom of insanity to have five kids searching each other’s rooms to find money we all knew wasn’t there. But in retrospect it was a pretty good lesson about accusing people without proof.
I remember my Dad’s fits, I remember the cross-country trips he took us on when we were kids, and the motorcycle trips he & my step-mom, and my cousin and I took as adults. I remember sitting with him in front of the stereo and taking apart pieces of music, sharing what that piece said to each of us. I remember him playing guitar and eating Filippi’s Pizza and Winchell’s Doughnuts.
And I remember him walking me down the aisle, which was really a path in a garden. I remember he said, “It’s okay. You don’t have to hurry. He’s there waiting for you.”
I can remember all of this and more. But he cannot. He knows I’m 55, but says he remembers me as 12. He knows he is forgetting, but doesn’t know what he is forgetting. He says that he doesn’t like it, but he can accept that this is what is happening to him, but then cries, ‘please, please, please don’t take my memories.’
Does memory live longer than what it remembers? It must. He does not remember, so the memories are in my keeping. Not to be held, but to be shared, so someday my children and grandchildren will tell the stories to their own kids : that my Daddy was a motorcycle riding, horse-loving, pizza eating cowboy.
And I love him.