Sunday, 14 June 2015

"It's a way of remembering,"

a friend told me. 
She is knitting a pullover for her son. He lives in Aberdeen. She lives here Downunder. 
For the past week she has had an upper respiratory infection and it was only yesterday that she felt well enough to phone me and ask if she could come over for some advice. She assured me she was no longer infectious. As she is a retired doctor I assumed this to be so and said, "Of course."
So, she prowled in - bringing with her a most welcome bag of lovely lemons.
We looked at the problem together and cobbled together an answer that meant not undoing it all. She told me how she had given herself a "holiday" that week. She had sat knitting by "the fire" and "most of the time I didn't put the television on. I just sat there. It's a way of remembering things."
And she went on to tell me how she had been making a blanket when some miners were trapped underground. The centre of the blanket seems dark to her. It was made when there seemed no hope. The outer part of the blanket is brighter as the rescuers realise that, against all odds, two of the three men are alive. They have to work out to get them out. And they do - so that, for her, the outside of the blanket is bright. 
"I remember it each time I see it," she told me. It reminds her. It's a visual memory of something she didn't actually see except on television. 
We forget most of what we see and do. We couldn't cope with life any other way. So what makes us remember some things and not others? 
I returned a picture the Whirlwind had drawn me recently. She had done it not long after her mother died and asked me to keep it for her. I did. Recently the circumstances were right for me to return it to her. I passed it back in an envelope and told her, "That's something you might want to keep now."
She looked at it and then said very quietly, "I remember doing that." Thankfully she remembers very little of the events surrounding her mother's death but the bright flowers she drew "for Mummy" are still there for her.  I am glad I kept them safe for her.
It has made me realise, yet again, how important it is to be able to create things and to keep those creations if we can. Passing them on to others can be important. It's a way of keeping cultural memory alive. It's also important for us. We need to be able to remember the past. That doesn't mean dwelling on it but using it to live in the present and look to the future.


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