The Family Memory

I love my mom. That wasn’t always the case. When I was living at home, especially for a few years when I had to return there as an adult in my early 20’s, she frustrated the hell out of me. Living half-way across the country has helped with that. I knew that some of her more ingrained traits would probably bug me when she visited for the holidays. Hell, I invited her out here, knowing that she would, on occasion drive to thoughts of matricide.

For the most part, I’ve been able to weather the crazy. Reminding myself that I knew of her OCD cleaning tendencies helps me sit down, take a breath, and just accept that mom is going to find something to clean no matter what. So I just let her go with it for the most part.

But the memory thing…

See, it’s like this. My mom has selective memory — and that’s being generous. I’m not sure if she just goes through life not paying attention to anything, or if she deliberately blocks things out. This is frustrating for me as a writer, because not only do I have a great memory, I also have a established (and marketable) reputation as a story teller. This means that when I relate any memory from my childhood around her, it is immediately dismissed as something I’ve made up. It doesn’t matter if I have outside confirmation. If she doesn’t remember it (which she never does), then it didn’t happen and I’ve made it up.

Having the veracity of my memories called into question on a regular basis is one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever encountered. There is no argument, no fellow witness, no level of conviction that will prove to her that I am right and she just doesn’t remember. The only defense I have is to be confident in my memory and let her have her delusions. It’s possible that part of her determined denial is a fear response, fear that she either didn’t notice these things happen, or that she forgot and her mind is slipping. Or it could just be firmly held delusion. Either way, it’s something to be weathered until she leaves Seattle on Wednesday.

For the record, my eventual memoirs will be titled “Stories My Mom Forgot.”

Merry Christmas!

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