Life is but memories

There are always things that we must forget, forgive and move away from.

I am grandmother to four young people. This includes one who has entered her twenties and is a successful professional. Despite all this I have somebody who welcomes me with tender concern and addresses me as ‘her child.’

It is my mother whose hundredth birthday we are looking forward to celebrating. Still beautiful and very courageous, she wins the admiration of all who meet her. She has looked after and served many, battled countless odds and borne sorrow with great dignity. Frail but determined, she does her best not to be a burden on others.

So it grieved me to see that her memory is not as keen as it used to be. She repeats herself and, in her mind, past events seem to be much clearer than the ongoing present. All I can do is to look at her loving face and hope that time will not be unkind to her. 

It is on occasions like this that the thought strikes me – how much of life consists in not forgetting and this not just in terms of recalling experiences, happy as well sad. It also means the ability to retain information that we need in order to conduct our day-to-day affairs. It includes operating with enough efficiency so that one is not a liability to others.

It would be interesting to imagine being struck with amnesia right at this moment. The change would be nothing short of dramatic. You will have no notion of who you are, where you live and who your loved ones are.

You will remember nothing of what you have achieved. All the hopes and dreams you had entertained for the future will have melted away and disappeared. You will find yourself completely at sea, seeing little that has any relevance. The biggest blow will be that life will be bereft of excitement and meaning. 

As the Spanish filmmaker, Luis Bunuel has pointed out, ‘You have to begin losing, if only in bits and pieces, to realize that memory is what makes our lives. Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feelings and even our actions. Without it, we are nothing’.

The ability to remember the past, to possess a personal history and to convey our simple but very own stories is a precious one. Recently the old students of the school where I had taught held a reunion for their teachers.

Each of them had not only taken time off from a hectic schedule, but also spent time and money to honour and thank their mentors.Every one of the teachers present was full of happiness to see these young achievers all eager to show their gratitude.

It was a gesture that brought us immense joy and satisfaction.  How wonderful such remembering can be!

Remembering, it must be admitted, has its ugly side. There are countless hurtful events and acts that are hard to forget. Personal as well as collective history is full of such instances and dredging them up can be painful. Is there any use in recalling them? Nothing, unless it reminds us and teaches us the futility of anger and destruction.

There are always things that we must forget, forgive and move away from. But there are the ones that we must remember and cherish. They belong to the treasure-chest of our memory, for they embody all our satisfactions and our hopes.

Comments (+)