My husband has a poor memory, and is well-known for it. I used to think it was just things I told him that he’d forget. Then I learned he's been this way since he was young; probably from one-too-many hits to the head during his football playing years. As frustrated as I get when he doesn’t remember something I said, I'm glad of one thing: he doesn't remember the exact details of every single thing I’ve said and done. I'd never win an argument if he did!
I recently watched a program about the very few people who are "gifted" with Hyperthymesia—a condition where the person possesses an extremely detailed autobiographical memory of everything—whether they want to remember it or not.
I’m thankful I don't know anyone with that "gift". I don't want the cold hard facts of my words or actions played back to me. Those times when a throbbing headache might have made me a crazy woman over some random little thing, or a time when I thought I was saying something witty or clever and instead it sounded nasty. My glaring “bad days” would flash like a strobe light in my loved ones brains. Think about it… who of us is so perfect that we want every single thing in our life remembered?
My children are now in their early thirties, but I can still look back at their younger years and wish I’d have said and done a few things different. What if they could remember, in great detail, all those mom-flubs of mine? Would they readily forgive them even if they couldn’t ever forget?
In the TV program featuring people with Hyperthymesia, one was a boy about twelve years old. It showed a conversation with his father, talking about his son. “When he woke up the other day, he said ‘dad, this is a sad day.’ I asked him why, and my son said ‘we had a fight on this day last year and you yelled at me.’” How sad! I felt awful for both the father and the son. I definitely do not want anyone who knows me to have a steel-trap memory like that.
Imagine having an argument wreck a certain date for you each year, like a festering boil that never goes away. Yes, I realize the pendulum can also swing the other way, and wonderful events can bring rainbows and sunshine to that particular date too. But, because I’m a worry-wart, I choose to focus on the bad “what-if’s?”
So far, I have many wonderful memories from my life. Am I remembering the events the way they really happened? Probably not. I’m sure the words are skewed, the pictures in my head, a little off. But because they are my memories, I can remember as I want—without the “facts” getting in the way.
How are your memories? Sharp and splendid? Vague? However they are, I hope they've become sprinkled with glitter, a little distorted and softened around the edges... memories that bring warm fuzzies ~ and unforgettable happiness.