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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

SENIOR MOMENTUM - You Remember What?

Senior Momentum:  A Series Of Situations
You Remember WHAT?

In that fuzzy abyss of things partially (and erratically) remembered, dwell some amazing tales.  There is something about holidays with their family gatherings that can get you on a roll, with one remembrance triggering another and another.

When my gang gets together, part of my enjoyment is just watching and listening. I am intrigued by who recalls what, what seems funny to one but not the other, which stories seem to coalesce, and which inspire instant challenge and debate!   And, in my own mind I am looking at how I recall whatever story is on the table.

Family reunions late in life often reveal that some memories are to cherish, some are best forgotten, and some apparently may never have happened!

Siblings frequently remember the same occasion very differently.  It can be a lonely moment when you start with “remember when … ?” and no one knows what you are talking about!

Take the crowded New Year’s Eve party one year when Rocco insisted on demonstrating his ability to walk the ledge of the loft high up in the lodge, and promptly fell down among the guests dancing below.  He actually   slipped through them to the floor, missing a direct hit.  Everyone thought he had just crumpled and fallen asleep! When the music stopped he was laying there moaning. The men picked him up (a first-aid cardinal sin today) stuffed him into one of the cars, careened down the icy driveway and headed for the hospital a town away.  Luckily he was blessed with a hard head and flexible body – they returned a few hours later with him sporting some bandages, but otherwise OK – bragging and joking about his antics.

In the midst of some reminiscing with my siblings, something led me to that incident.  I started to laugh and describe Rocco flying through the air and disappearing into the dancers – a pretty memorable event, I thought!  No one knew what I was talking about.  Apparently I was the only one who had seen him sail through the air, through the dancers, and disappear.

Intelligence (and simple logic) assure us that memories come from different perspectives, from different vantage points, and are filtered through gyri unique in each person.  Add in the time factor, the way age diddles with our memory, plus the odds concerning accuracy, and it’s a set-up for a good laugh -- or a good fight!

“Remembering” is a very important part of our lives, especially as years advance.  Ageing limits the nature of the new memories we might create, so we love to revisit the past – happy or bittersweet.  We pass the stories from one generation to the next as part of the family glue, and in a way it’s a responsibility to a family’s legacy. 

I wish that more of us in the senior category would journal, write letters, keep diaries or simply write down the family stories and incidents when they come to mind.  History that is not shared with our children and grandchildren can be history lost forever.  Just as we may learn something in a new light, we also sometimes learn that what we thought was the case was not the case at all!

My generation still indulges the art of correspondence, and with each recollection in my sister’s letters, I gain another piece of the family puzzle.  We often amaze each other with our differing remembrance of an event or person we both experienced. 

You remember what?  Well, her memories expand my trove, and my memories expand hers.  We then have more to give our children of their heritage.

While Rocco sailing off the loft is hardly an important piece of family history, the episode came to illuminate for me the truth that although we   were all “there” we often only know what we personally recall, and clearly that is never the whole story.

Zoë Tummillo is a Business & Marketing Consultant/Trainer/Commercial Writer, dba COMMUNICATION CONCEPTS, in private practice since 1974.   In addition to Commercial work, she writes “Senior Momentum:  A Series of Situations”ã; and essay memoirs of growing up first generation Italian American:  Pieces of My Path”ã.  To contact her -- email:  

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