I suffer from CRS. Yes, you know what that stands for. I leave the house and forget to put on deodorant. I’ll be speaking to someone and draw a complete blank on a word or a name. Just today I absolutely forgot to leave cash and a check for a helium tank MR was supposed to pick up for Zombiegirl’s 5th Grade Fun Day. The only thing I was responsible for and I forgot. I can’t EVER remember where Beena is- work, school or home for dinner. I forget my glasses, my shoes and/or my phone at least once a week.
Because of this, I have huge gaping holes in my childhood memories.
Yes, I remember certain instances. Usually the bad stuff- Mom yelling at me, fights with boyfriends, car accidents.
Do I remember, however, the names of those totally cool Girl Scout leaders I had when I was a Cadette? No. Do I remember ANYTHING about Junior High School (Robert H. Goddard, if you care…) No. Do I remember the names of most of the cats I had growing up? No. Can I recall one birthday party I had as a kid? No. If it wasn’t for that one picture of me dressed as Batman (and my little brother as Robin) I would think my family didn’t celebrate Halloween because I can’t remember dressing up as ANYTHING. And no, I did not chose to be Batman…
I kept a diary sporadically growing up. The one rambling entry in it was typical teenage angst railing at something my mother whispered to my father about me while we were on a camping trip. Nowhere on those other pages do I write about my interactions with boys, friends or other stuff girls are supposed to write about. I remember how I felt growing up- scared, anxious, self-conscious and alone. But names and instances and events escape me. My family was not one for picture taking, either. Whatever pictures I have of my childhood travails are now old white-framed squares of yellowed faces as blurry as my memories.
Losing my brother felt like part of my heart was cut out. Obviously. But not only my heart was affected. Losing someone who grew up with me, slept in the same room with me and hung out with me also felt like part of my memory was cut out. No one to compare notes with, no one to call up and ask, “What was her name?”, no one to reminisce about vacations with. My childhood died when Robbie did.
And Mom? Her steel-trap mind could remember names, dates and shoe sizes of practically everyone she met. She could remember almost every one of the many Girl Scouts she was a leader to, every one of the kids in Sunday School she taught and almost all of mine and Robbie’s classmates. The ones that mattered, anyway. I never knew how she did it, but I apparently didn’t inherit any of her brain neurons. Now that she’s gone, too, I’m left with pictures of people I know I should know, snatches of memories I should be able to name. It’s totally frustrating.
A few years ago, I met up with an old classmate and BFF from school. We went to P.S. 146 and Goddard together. I’m pretty sure we went to the same high school, but really, I can’t remember and I’m too lazy to pull out my yearbook. Anyway, we met back in Howard Beach for lunch. While we were eating, she rambled off names of people we (supposedly) went to school with and/or hung out with. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember two-thirds of the names she mentioned. And we ran in the same circles! I must have looked like a complete idiot because we never got together after that. Facebook is torture for me as well. Names pop up and I know I should know them and probably request them, but I can’t remember if I had any meaningful interaction with them. That’s why I’m so selective on Facebook and not a “friend collector”. Everyone I have as a friend I can remember having a friendship with. And I liked. I think. No, just kidding.
So where was I going with this post? I don’t remember…
Oh, yeah. Ha!
I regret never keeping a diary. I regret not taking more pictures and actually labelling them. I regret not listening more closely to my mother and grandmothers and aunts talking about our family. I regret not going over more things with Mom when she got sick. (Not that she would probably be in the mood to discuss these things after radiation and surgery…) This is why I write my blog. So I can remember.
Do you remember this post? The one where I accompanied my Dad to our family cemetary plots to place Christmas wreaths on our dearly departed? After that trip I realized that I didn’t want to lose any more memories, so I posted the whos and wheres on my blog. I realized that for my children, I had to start documenting stuff about our family or it will be lost forever. In fact, just recently, Zombiegirl came home with an assignment to trace her family tree back to someone who came through Ellis Island. She asked her grandmother, my MIL, for names and dates. Grandma couldn’t remember half of the information related to her own parents and grandparents. Wonderful. Pieces of my daughter’s heritage lost unless someone does some digging in some archives somewhere. I can’t let this happen to my family. Even if they don’t care now (like I did at their age) my kids might care where they come from when they get older. And if I can’t remember (snort!) at least we’ll have this blog and Joyce to help.
(Enter Joyce. Hi Joyce!)
As a result of some Googling of the good Arfmann name, Joyce found my blog through that cemetary post. She contacted me with tons of information about my great-greats as a result of her research through library archives and the internet. She had family trees and pictures and dates and newspaper clippings.
We’re related! I found a family member. Or, rather, she found me. How freaking cool is that?
We’ve been emailing pictures and information about ourselves back and forth. She inspired me to sign up at My Heritage (which Big Brother won’t let me access at work-grrr) and start my family tree. After pestering Dad for old pictures, we discovered that we have some of the same photos! Her diligence found a newspaper article mentioning my Mom and the SST debacle at JFK. She’s cleared up some relative questions. She’s a vegetarian. And a grandma.
And she’s going to help me remember who I am and where I come from.
Thanks, Joyce! Welcome to my family. Even though you’ve been a member of it longer than I have! And, um…do you know where I left my keys?