I have always prided myself on having a good memory. As I grow older, however, I have started to suspect that my memory may be playing tricks on me.
Last weekend, while staying with my Little Sister and her fella, our conversations inevitably moved into reminiscences. This is another thing that happens as we age. It was noticeable, over the course of our days remembering times
gone by, that our memories did not always tally. The general nature of the memory would be the same, but the details didn’t always tally. Take, for example, the momentous event that was my Little Sister’s birth. I recall in great detail (or so
I like to think) our father leading me into the back bedroom of our home in Rush Green, Romford, Essex (oh, yes, alas, we are both Essex girls through and through) where my mum was sitting up in bed cradling my new sister in her arms.
To be fair my Little Sister isn’t qualified to argue with my picture of the happy scene, being only a few hours old. Her main complaint is that I can’t remember what time
all this happened so I am unable to say whether she was born late at night or early in the morning. My elder brother, however, is quick to correct my recollection of events. Our sister was definitely born, he claims, in the front bedroom not the back bedroom.
The fact that he was thirteen at the time and I was only three would seem to favour his version - but I still have the picture, indelibly written, into my memory, never to be erased despite my brother’s certainty.
Then, a few days ago when the Eldest of the Darling Daughters arrived for a visit for a belated birthday celebration, we were talking about Christmas (as you tend to do when Lockdown threatens the
festive season) and my daughter asked if she had ever been in a nativity play at school. Do you know, I couldn’t remember. I was immediately plagued by maternal guilt (yes, it can visit you however old your off-spring may be) - surely I would have remembered
such an important event of her childhood?
I sought reassurance this afternoon during our weekly Family Zoom from the Middle and Youngest Darling Daughters
- did they remember dressing up as a shepherd, or an angel or even Mary herself? The Middle of the Darling Daughters recalled being a tinkling bell in some kind of school performance. I was pleased to confirm that I, too, remembered this - it took a whole
roll of kitchen foil, I seem to recall, to cover a Hilary-sized bell. I also remember her bellowing out the first words of the poem she had to recite: “I am a little tinkling bell!” she yelled.
The Youngest of the Darling Daughters said she remembered getting dressed up for the school Christmas parties and did this count? Granddaughter, Eleanor, remembered her tea towel head-dress slipping off her head during her
starring role as a shepherd in the nursery school nativity and leaving the stage to ask her mother (who was proudly recording the whole performance on her video camera) to fix it. She did progress to the role of Mary at Infant School - indeed, all three of
the oldest granddaughters played Mary in a school nativity. As, indeed, did I when I was six.
I still remember the words I had to recite: “Behold the handmaid
of the Lord. Be it unto me according to Thy word.” At six years old I think it’s safe to say I didn’t have the faintest idea what this meant but I am proud to say that I was word perfect.
At least, that’s how I remember it.....