Moments of Memory

Memories are moments remembered.  Often I say my brain is like a sieve because it loses everything (including my children’s names at times, as like my mum I call them all three, or sometimes the pets names until I find the right one!).  But our brains really are like sieves, filtering all the moments of our life and catching random ones.  Many moments are simply lived and then lost.

I don’t know why our brains keep some moments and let others go. Many are obviously the big ones we keep – my eldest daughter literally sees her brain as a shelf where she puts things to remember.    And we have reminders like photos and drunken Facebook posts (this is not directed specifically to any of my friends!).  But sometimes memory can’t be captured. It can be a smell, a song, a sound, a symbol that can take us back to a moment or time long gone. Sometimes they come upon us randomly, and sometimes they have to be made.

I had an idea when I was first pregnant ten years ago.  I was in that lovely phase of buying my first baby clothes, all full of wonder and worry.  I would hold them and stroke them unable to fully comprehend the little legs and heads that would fit into them.  And then suddenly they were filled, with real flesh and real smells and real wonder.  The clothes my little babies and then my little girls wore were like snapshots in time, summing up my love and that time and our life together. Many I bought, and I remember each piece. Many my mum bought (“Oh I just couldn’t help myself”), or they were simple ordinary clothes that the kids just loved and wore with relish.  And so I kept them. I put an age limit of five on each child and kept all the important little clothes that made a memory for me.  For ten years I have been holding onto to those fabric memories, each representing the fabric of my motherhood. And then they became this.  A 6 foot memory blanket to wrap myself in now that my girls are not always with me, taken away by a failed marriage.

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This blanket is me. It is my mum. It is each of my girls, individually and together.  Wrapping me in love physically and emotionally, keeping me warm from the evening chill, and keeping me safe from the chill of the unknown.   Love stitched together, weaving the fabric of a precious period of my life, it is a quilt of kindness – there is not a single bad thought in it. Every fibre, every stitch pulling together the very best bits of me and the real true loves in my life.  When the memories are gone, I can still be wrapped in the moments, every single square a story I can tell.

I also had a bag of all the little cardigans my mum knitted before her hands knotted with arthritis and then knarled with the stroke.  Cardigans that grew each evening on her sofa, each stitch forming another line of love, growing in her hands, taking shape, until (like me) she had made something good with her own effort.  She would call me to tell me she had searched three different shops but she had finally found the right buttons.  I asked Angela* who made the blanket could she do something with them. They are so precious to me and I couldn’t bear for them to sit in a bag, memories tarnished with mould.  

IMG_0009And this is what she made me…. a patchwork cushion stitched by my mum and all her love, buttons intact, and labelled, like my mum’s cardigans “made with love by Nanna”. A cushion of memory to cushion my heart.

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I’m ready to embrace the future because my sieve kept all the good bits and I am inspired by my past.   Bad stuff happens, but much more good does.   And as I wrap myself in love and memory, I can look forward to making new memories to stitch into the blanket of my life.   

*Angela’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/A.B.Quiltsandmore

About Grin & Tonic by Alana Kirk

Bouncing into middle age armed with courage, ambition and a pair of tweezers (chin hairs for anyone over the age of 45 reading this) I am a writer with a mission: to redefine this midway point in my life when the last thing I want to do is hang up my high heels and become invisible. This is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. A single mum to 3 fabulous girls, an author, and a fundraising consultant, both ends of my candle are on fire. As I enter this new stage of my life, I want to explore what it means for 'mid-aged' women today, who were promised they could have it all, ended up doing it all, and just do not identify with the traditional image of middle age.
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