Have you ever wondered if the childhood memories you have are actual memories, or just other people’s interpretation of your memories? I sometimes wonder if my first memories are implanted memories from old photographs or stories told by my parents or grandparents. I have specific memories of the first home I remember living in and I know I lived in this home from the time I was two until just before my sixth birthday, but how much of what I remember is true memory?
As the oldest of three children - my brother, Brent, is 21 months younger than me, and my baby sister, Amy, was 19 months younger than my brother - we were like stair steps, three blond heads in a row. I’ve seen many childhood pictures of my siblings and me and we were usually always lined up by size, but I have no recollection of having these pictures made. No memories of the tears I’m sure we shed during photography sessions, after all, my kids shed lots of tears on occasion when having their pictures taken.
I think I can remember my brother as a baby, lying beside him on my parent’s double bed. But is it really a memory? It may just be the picture I have hanging in my hallway, the one of the two of us laying on the bed. Granny Devine used to tell me I was like a little mother hen, but I think this is my recollection of her memory, not my own memory. I do have a vivid memory of pushing Brent in a toy car in the backyard and try as I might, I can’t find a picture like this, so I feel this is a true memory.
I have another vivid memory of my brother, and he was walking, so I must have been at least three, if not a little older. We were playing in the backyard with our Farmer See ‘n Say and I was trying to teach him the sounds of all the animals. When a thunderstorm blew up, Mom rushed us inside before it started raining, but in our hurry to get inside, we left the See ‘n Say in the yard. Mom tried her best to get me to run across the yard to get the toy before the rain ruined it, but I was too afraid of the rain. She ended up racing into the yard while my brother and I both cried at the back door. I don’t remember anything else about the See ‘n Say, but this is one toy I bought when I had children of my own.
I also remember the Inchworm riding toy we used to own. These toys were very popular in the 1960s, and they are still popular today. You can find them in most stores selling toys, or on the Internet. Brent and I, and later Amy, used to take turns riding the Inchworm – up and down, up and down, from one end of the sidewalk to another. This is another toy I bought for my own children and they loved it as much as I did.
One of my fondest memories is of swinging on our swing set and singing at the top of my lungs for my next door neighbor to come out and play with me. Diane was probably five or six years older than me, but I followed her around like a little puppy dog. I would get on the swing glider and sing; “Diane, Diane, come out and play with me.” I can vividly remember this and my Mom also remembers this. A few years ago I met Diane again for the first time in probably 35 years, and she remembered me singing for her to come out and play. I know this is not an implanted memory, because I can actually remember the tune of the made-up song I sang.
One other memory I have is of a baby chicken my brother and I owned. I’m not sure if it was an Easter present or not, but I think it must have been. The chicken eventually got too big to keep in the house, and we were going to have to take it to Granny and Granddaddy’s farm in Bohon. I cried so hard because I didn’t want the chick to leave. On the day we were to take the chick to the farm, I was in charge of carrying the chicken which we had placed in a closed box. On the way to the car, my parents were too busy talking, so I lagged behind so I could hide the chicken. Passing by the tobacco barn behind our house, I opened one of the side vents of the barn and threw my chicken in, closing the vent as quickly as I could. Unfortunately for me, we only got a few miles out of town before Mom and Dad missed the chicken and I was forced to tell them what I did. I’m sure I probably got into trouble, but I don’t remember that.
Real or implanted, pictorial or video, I have many memories of my childhood, but try as I might, I’m really not sure what my very first memory is. All I know for sure is that I love to share my memories with my children, and I love to listen to the memories they remember from their lives. Memories are special, and sometimes fragile, so go out and make some memories with your children today.