Thursday, May 21, 2009

I Remember Love

Emotion—-love, especially-—is my memory’s saving grace; its medicine; the reason I have any sort of long-term relationship with my past. Like a precious photograph that freezes the details of an otherwise forgettable scene, I have random memories that are framed in love and hung on the walls of my soul.

When I close my eyes and visualize my very first childhood recollection, I find myself as a three-year-old climbing into bed with my parents on what must have been a Saturday morning in our rambler home in Carmichael, CA. Their bedroom window was open, a fresh summer breeze bringing the curtains to life. I was in the middle, my dad propped on his elbow to my left, my mom smiling at my right and my one-year-old brother crawling all over us. For some reason, that moment was recorded—-perhaps it was the first time infancy’s innocent blanket of oblivion was lifted to reveal me, Marie, the daughter of parents who loved me dearly. It was the first time I consciously recognized and appreciated their love for me.

Jump ahead a few years and I can remember getting home from school to find my mom sitting on the living room floor in a sea of mismatched socks. She asked me to help her find the matches and then taught me how to bundle them together as she asked me about my day at school. I remember how she had one leg tucked into her body and the other stretched out. I remember the tired look in her eyes, recognizing for a fleeting moment all she did for our family. I remember the fun I had tossing the matched bundles into the laundry basket. I remember the one-on-one. I remember feeling loved. I was about five years old.

I can fuzzily recall bedtime scenes from my childhood-—the cool wet on my forehead from my dad’s kiss after he’d tuck me in and say, “sweet dreams.” It happened thousands of times and yet it’s a blur. But there is one night I savor in detail; a night when I felt cherished and admired because we talked about what I was most passionate about as a girl: gymnastics. He asked me what I thought about before going to sleep. I told him I visualized myself doing each of my gymnastics routines as I drifted off, how I mentally practiced so intensely that sometimes my mind understood what a move would feel like before my body did. I could tell he found me fascinating and that it made him proud to have a daughter so passionate about something. I remember the angle of my bed, the tight safety of my sheets, exactly where my dad sat on the edge of my mattress, making the sheets even tighter. I remember him proudly calling for my mom:

“You hear that, Honey? She runs through each of her routines in her mind before she goes to sleep.”

That conversation took place about 17 years ago, but I can still hear his proud voice in my ear, saying those sweet words.

I’m not one to remember these types of things—crawling into bed, folding socks, a bedtime conversation. But somehow I vividly remember these scenes in detail, and that’s because I felt especially loved in those simple, simple moments.

And here I am, the mother of two, and my three-year-old daughter could seal her first memory any minute now. Are the odds of it being a loving memory in her favor? Will her mind capture me in an impatient, stressed, or distracted moment? There’s a better chance of that than I’d like to admit. Still, I have hope that she’ll remember a simple bedtime story, my fingers combing through her hair, an afternoon nap together. Whatever it is she holds on to, I hope, like me, she can one day say, "I remember love."


  1. Oh, Marie.....I have chills. Still. And a lump in my throat. What a sweet post; what beautiful thoughts. My first memory is of my dad coming home from a few months in Honduras--I was 3, and I remember that he walked through the door with such a deep dark tan that I was for a moment confused--until my mom hugged him fiercely, and I heard him laugh and call out to us children. (Then it was very obvious that this was him!)

  2. That was a beautiful post and truly brought a bit of tears to my eyes. You wrote that so nicely and seriously made me think about what my children might remember too. Thank you for your sweetness!

  3. Beautifully written. I sometimes wonder what each of my kids will remember as their "first memory." I, too, hope that it is a tender moment.

  4. Eloquently stated. I don't think you can control what your children's memories will be. I think their own personalities will determine what types of memories will remain with them. My sister and I have very different memories of our childhoods, even though we grew up in the same home. I'm sure there were plenty of times when your parents were frustrated or a bit short tempered, just like all parents are. You, in your sweet way, chose to capture memories of them at their loving best. I hope your children will be of like mind.

  5. You made me cry! You are such a good person, I don't know how Maggie's first memory could be of anything but feeling loved. Thank you for posting this.

  6. that's so sweet. I loved reading that and how you tied your childhood to your children's now. And you can't say now that you have a horrible memory :) I'm glad you have such great memories of your childhood. Your parents are awesome. I am sure your kids will have similar memories of their childhood too. But I worry too that Addy will remember me as being mad and frustrated, especially when she says, "Don't be mad Mom." how sad huh?...see, you didn't see that side of us when you came to visit :)

  7. You are such an ispiration to me - for your ability to phrase an idea so perfectly that one can't help but feel exactly what you must have been feeling when you wrote it so beautifully. I love your random, tender memories and for your talented way of sharing them. I love that you are thinking of your own children and what they will remember of you. I myself am so thankful that my earliest memory is of my sister Tina who died when I was 3. What a special blessing that has been to me because I will know her immediately when she greets me on the other side of the veil and I will say "remember that time you came and told me to get off the horse and come in for dinner?"

  8. You write so well. Seriously, I read your posts, and wish that I could write like that. Anyway, it definitely got me thinking about my own memories and memories that Cole might have forever. Makes each day seem a little more important! Thanks!

  9. I loved this one! So precious! I love reading things like this from you--you truly have a way with words!

  10. Marie,you are beautiful!
    I love that you have shared these thoughts of love....this is something I think often about and you captions now will be in memory, thanks!

  11. Lincoln's 3rd birthday is fast approaching and I am feeling a huge amount of responsibility to make thost first life-long memories of his be good ones. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one to think about things like that :)




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