Today, an 80-something gentleman talked and I listened. I occasionally spoke, but my words were just connectors that threaded the man’s stories together. He asked me if I knew anyone who could write a program to help him get his opinions on the Internet. I wrote inside the front cover of the journal he was filling with notes. I hope that the grandchild, neighbor or friend he asks for help doesn’t discourage him. Not because I agree with his political and educational ideas. I don’t. That didn’t make them any less relevant or in need of archiving. I wish I had a written record of my grandparents’ stories and opinions. I should have chased them around with a video camera. So much history lost forever.

When you’re a child, it’s funny that old people sit around telling stories. What nobody tells you is that as you get older, the most innocuous sight, sound or smell triggers vivid memories that feel so real, you wonder if you’ve slipped through a wormhole. While it’s usually comfortable, familiar memories that make you smile, occasionally it is long forgotten memories that take your breath away like a cold, winter wind slapping you in the face when you first step outside. Memories that must be written, even if they are tucked away for the future. Memories that make the heart ache at the experiences and ideas that were never spoken, never written, never shared.

I have nothing but memories of my grandparents. All that remains of what should be a part of my history, are scattered, fragmented images. Even the physical things which were promised to me were determined to be more “appropriate” elsewhere. The absence of obvious relics doesn’t stop the ever increasing flood of memories. Memories that I lacked the clarity to see until now. When my grandmother took me to visit the woman in the iron lung, it wasn’t coincidental. It was a deliberate message for a pre-adolescent who was self absorbed and histrionic about a few years in a back brace. My grandmother’s visits there were a secret that she shared with me. I repaid her by forgetting it until she was long gone.

I was always told that aging robs you of memories. Nobody warned me that the opposite could be true. It might not be normal. Perhaps the dusty archive files being shuffled to the in basket are a sign of Alzheimer’s. Maybe it’s my own version of schizophrenia, I have to Take The Test! Whatever it is, I like it. It fills my senses and leaves me with a sense of contentment.

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