Wednesday, September 28, 2011

George Vaillant Corrects My Memories

Lovers WalkImage by ~~Tone~~ via Flickr I enjoy remembering my mother and father and the other members of my extended family.  I have stories I want to write about them.  I do have a problem though.  The stories seem to get better as I age.  Reading George Vaillant's book has given me a reason why and alerted me to a truth I didn't want to believe. 

We tend to reinvent out lives and memories to make them easier to accept and live with.  The studies Vaillant based his research on prove that.  The studies that took data at the time of the event may reveal a very painful and deprived childhood, but when the subject is interviewed at 50 or 60, he may tell of a loving and supportive family.  The subject is not lying or even confabulating; he has made the story tolerable.  He may pick details that conform to his view of his life. 

So it is with me.  I remember many events with a sort of a lovely, misty haze and the aroma of spring flowers or autumn leaves burning.  I associate great romance with my parents, partly because of the difference in their ages.  When I was old enough to understand that fifteen years is a considerable time, I thought both of them made a sacrifice for the sake of love.  When she died at 38, I was confronted with the tradgedy. 

Now I have shaped my memories to bless my life in ways I could not have anticipated when they were happening.  My mother was a pretty strict disciplinarian, but I remember her loving me without
cause or excuse.  I was not precocious, smart, or beautiful, but she thought I was.  My father was far more wise and wonderful that I thought at the time.  He was a romantic and clever with words, but I was too dense to know it.  Now I remember.

I don't really care whether my memories are accurate.  I care that they bless me.  I won't analyze them or find fault with them, even though sometimes they aren't pleasant.  Sadness deserves to be rememered to, and hard times, and bitter words, and spankings.  Even with these realities, the misty haze is still hanging in the air and my childhood is still charmed.
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Hannah said...

I think it speaks well of your parents that the prevailing memory you do have of them is love!

Gayle said...

Thanks for that comment, Hannah.

Christine said...

Sometimes, I think that it is a real blessing from the Lord that we remember things "in a haze". I prefer it that way!