For several years now, I’ve noticed that my mom has been losing her memory. She frequently doesn’t remember things that did happen and she “remembers” things that didn’t really happen. Some of those memories involve me as she will insist that she did something that was actually me or she’ll insist that I did or didn’t do something that I actually didn’t or did do.
This year for Christmas, Momma gave me a gift bag that said “From the Past.” That should have been a red flag right there. The contained two little Christmas ornaments that I cross-stitched when I was about ten and a gourd that was painted like an old-fashioned Santa Clause.
Now I clearly recall cross-stitching the little Christmas ornaments and putting them into the little frames for the Christmas tree. The gourd, however, is a different story. I said to my mom, “Mom, I didn’t pain this gourd.”
“Yes, you did,” she replied.
“Momma,” I began, “I don’t recall ever seeing this little gourd before, but even if I did see it before, I certainly didn’t paint it. Look. It’s professionally painted.”
My mother looked closely at the gourd and began telling me how she remembers me bringing this home from school when I was in third or fourth grade. It was an art project that we had worked on at school, she explained, and I was a good little artist. Now I’ll give her that much. I was a terrific artist when I was young. I still look at the drawings I created as a ten and eleven-year-old and it’s astounding. They look professional, but I remember creating each and every one of them. I do not remember this gourd, nor could I have painted quite that professionally. I was more into pencil drawings than paintings.
Well, I don’t like to frustrate my mom so when she insisted once again that I painted the gourd, I didn’t say anything else. I just accepted her gift and thought, “What will it hurt if she thinks I was a professional painter in third grade?!?”
Today Hannah was rummaging through the Christmas things that still haven’t been put away. We didn’t even have a tree this year, but we still haven’t managed to put away the few things we did have out. Hannah found the gourd and all the children were asking where it came from so I told them the story.
I said, “Why don’t we finish packing away all our Christmas things and we’ll put this up somewhere? You guys can drag it back out in 20 years and I’ll say, ‘Look, here’s that little gourd that Sarah painted in school when she was ten.’”
Sarah was sitting there and she said, “Mommy, we don’t go to school.”
Chris said, “I can just see it now. If you start losing your memory, then you’ll say, ‘Yes, you did, Sarah, don’t you remember painting this in third grade and you brought it home from school with you?’
“Then Sarah will say, ‘But Mommy, really, I didn’t paint that when I was in third grade, remember? You wouldn’t even let us go to school so that’s not possible. We were homeschooled.’
“And Mommy will say, ‘No, I remember. You brought this home from school when you were in third grade! I remember it so it must be true. And besides, what is homeschool?’”
It was funny. The kids were cracking up. The medicine I take already makes me forget things more easily, but I hope I don’t completely lose my memory. If I do, perhaps the children will point me back to writing such as then when I recognize that perhaps I shouldn’t argue about some things.
After all, sometimes a gourd is just a gourd.