History is important to me, and dementia runs in my family, so I often think about memory.
It’s one of those things we sometimes wish we could control.
Children’s author Lois Lowry explored that “what if we could” possibility when she wrote The Giver, and she talks about it in the following video. Thanks to Jane Heitman Healy for sharing the video with me.
What do you think of Lowry’s theory of what could happen to people if we controlled memory?
I was in my crib, in my dark room, and I could see my dad, down the hall in the lighted kitchen. Our family’s German shepherd-mix dog slept on the rug next to my crib. And my blue and white stuffed dog was in the crib with me.
This is my first memory.
Except it isn’t.
I did have a blue and white stuffed dog. Our real dog did sleep on the rug next to my crib. However, according to my parents, we never lived in a house that would have allowed me to see from my room, down a hall, and into the kitchen.
Memory is a tricky thing. Sometimes we remember certain things vividly. Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we suppress memories.
What about my first memory? I’m guessing it was the memory of a dream based on things important to me–my dogs and my dad. But it stuck with me.
Perhaps we remember emotions better than facts. In my dream/false memory I felt safe. In other memories, I still feel the fear, anger, shame, happiness, etc. I felt during the event.
Writers of biography, history, and historical fiction depend on primary resources. Eye-witness accounts. Sometimes these are of recent events. Sometimes the accounts are memories of a less-recent event.
Sometimes the person provides accurate information. Sometimes the person’s memory is faulty. Sometimes the person lies. That’s why authors and historians look for multiple primary sources to determine facts.
However, there is no better way to find out how an event made someone feel than to read or listen to that person’s memories.
In your reading, research, and writing, how do you evaluate other people’s memories? What is your first memory?